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`Twin City' pact: official team to visit Newham

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T. Nandakumar

City mapping project on agenda

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The `Twin City' pact between Thiruvananthapuram corporation and the London borough of Newham is set to gain momentum, as the two sides step up exchange of official delegations to finalise a slew of projects.

A three-member team of officials from Thiruvananthapuram is slated to leave on a reciprocal visit to Newham early next week to work out the implementation strategy for a ward-level mapping project for the capital city. The team includes All India Institute of Local Self-Government director S. Gopinathan, corporation secretary T.K. Ravindran and Information Kerala Mission (IKM) Deputy Director K.K. Padmaja.

The team members will interact with their counterparts and councillors in Newham. The Twin City pact is promoted by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). The Newham Council has committed an assistance of 50,000 pounds to Thiruvananthapuram Corporation under the agreement. Two delegations from Newham had visited Thiruvananthapuram last year to identify the sectors for cooperation.

The mapping project involves the establishment of a community database for effective policy-making and resource management. It will also equip the Corporation with baseline information for poverty alleviation and informed decision-making. "The exchange visit is aimed at providing the corporation officials with skills for a need-based planning strategy," Mr. Gopinathan said.

The first phase of the project includes a ward-level survey of all the premises within the city. In the second phase, the physical maps will be digitised and converted into GIS (Geographical Information System) format.

The IKM has drawn up a questionnaire and data collection strategy for the mapping programme. Ms. Padmaja said the proposal would be submitted to the Newham council for fine-tuning and further recommendations.

Newham officials will train their counterparts from Thiruvananthapuram in analytical skills and decision support for the mapping programme. They will provide guidance in preparing reports and handling GIS information. The training is to be backed up by periodic refresher courses. There will be four exchange visits during the first 18 months of the project.

The London borough has also proposed bilateral promotion of tourism, a `twinning' programme for schools and a teacher exchange scheme. Mr. Gopinathan said officials from the two local bodies would examine the feasibility of these projects during the current visit.

One of the host boroughs in London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, Newham is an old dockside city emerging as a major business location in the U.K.. The city has a thriving Malayali expatriate population of over 12,000.

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