Demand to disband development authorities in Kochi gains steam

The GCDA office complex at Kadavanthra in Kochi. The authority was constituted in 1976 to coordinate development activities in the Greater Kochi area.   | Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), which is heavily staffed, and the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA), both of which are under fire for shoddy upkeep of roads, bridges, and other infra that come under them, have become next to defunct, according to the impression that is gaining ground.

Over the years, it has led to the demand that the government disband them and redeploy personnel to different local bodies which are facing paucity of skilled hands. Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been demanding that the two agencies at least implement announcements made in their annual budgets and decisions taken at meetings.

Both the GCDA, which was formed in 1976, and the GIDA, which was constituted in 1994, have failed to perform their mandated tasks.

The list of non-starter projects of the GCDA include Goshree-Mamangalam Road, Ring Road around the city, and Chilavannur Bund Road, all of which were mooted over two decades ago.

On its part, the GIDA has failed to do anything substantial for the development of Goshree isles during the last over 15 years after the trio of Goshree bridges were commissioned, said Felix J. Pullooden, general secretary of India Human Rights Watch, a city-based NGO.

“Such so-called development authorities are a drain on the public exchequer. The debt-ridden State cannot afford to set apart funds to make them stay afloat, at a time when there is fiscal crisis, and every penny counts,” he said.

A high-ranking official who was associated with their functioning said the two authorities had failed to live up to expectations, although they were vested with a lot of powers under the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution.

For instance, the GCDA was constituted to coordinate development activities in the Greater Kochi area. A slew of studies that were done, including a transportation plan readied by Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) as early as 2000, remain unimplemented, he added.

Interestingly, a committee set up by the State government in 2016 to study the functioning of such agencies had ordered an assessment of their staff requirements and their redeployment to local bodies. Such agencies in Kozhikode, Thrissur, and many other districts had been wound up and their staff redeployed.

“Too much of decentralisation of powers could be a reason for such agencies being ineffective. For example, Kochi has been unable to ready a master plan, despite efforts made in the last 25 years. The ‘structure plan’ for Kochi central city that was notified in 1991 too is a non-starter. With the Kochi metro in operation, all these plans must be revised and implemented for Kochi to live up to its name as an upcoming metropolis,” official sources said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:28:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/demand-to-disband-development-authorities-in-kochi-gains-steam/article36814861.ece

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