Panel rejects housing scheme
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commissions the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal on Friday, the stalemate between district administration and those displaced for the project is continuing.
District Collector M. Beena had announced special housing scheme for the evictees at a meeting held with representatives of evictees recently.
The coordination committee for those displaced by development projects has rejected this. “All we request is a time-bound implementation of the rehabilitation package already notified by the State government and signed by Nivedita P. Haran, Revenue Principal Secretary,” said Francis Kalathunkal, general convenor of the committee.
At the same time, the district administration maintained that the rehabilitation package has already been implemented. “Except for the provision for providing jobs to the evictees, which is not in the purview of the district administration, every other aspect of the package has been implemented,” Dr. Beena said.
The special package announced was actually a step ahead of the announced package, she said, citing that the original package mentioned only that evictees should be given priority in allotting water and power connection as they complete the houses. In place of this, the special scheme envisages to use Rs.34 lakh Goshree Island Development Authority (GIDA) fund to provide water and power connection to the plots identified for rehabilitation in Kadamakudy.
The title deeds to all displaced families have been handed over. But many of them have not even applied for permission to construct houses at the land allotted to them.
The evictees were given the option to rent houses till the construction is over or stay in FACT quarters. However, some of them chose to stay in temporary shacks, she said.
On their part, the Coordination Committee alleged that a similar special package was announced when the Chief Minister distributed title deeds in February 2009. The district administration did not make a commitment for time-bound implementation of package then also, said Mr. Kalathunkal.
In a related development, Union Minister of State for Food and Agriculture K.V. Thomas visited the temporary shacks in which those evicted from Moolampilly had been staying. The State government should initiate steps to implement the rehabilitation package that it had notified and the Union government was willing to extend all support, he said.
Senior Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran had visited the area and said that the delay in the implementation of the rehabilitation package for Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal was a major failure on the part of the government. Rehabilitation is as important as the project itself and it should be implemented in a convincing manner, he had said.
The Coordination Committee is hoping to bring in more social and political leaders to the site and highlight the issue.