Government starves the golden goose

Ernakulam which doles out half of the State’s revenue gets a pittance as funds

December 23, 2012 10:36 am | Updated 10:36 am IST - KOCHI

If Ernakulam district ceases to contribute its revenue to the State exchequer then development works being undertaken across the State will come to a standstill.

Yes, the district has been consistently contributing more than half of the revenue collected in the State. However, when allocations are made for development works, the funds the district gets is in no way proportionate to its contribution.

Hibi Eden, who represents Ernakulam constituency in the Assembly, said while the district in its capacity as the industrial capital had been contributing more than 50 per cent of the revenue generated in the State, it was not being given its due in comparison with the special packages allotted to the capital city.

“I and Benny Behanan had given a note to Finance Minister K.M. Mani against the neglect meted out to the district in the last budget. But nothing was done on it,” he said.

Mr. Eden, however, said road-related problems in the city had been addressed to a large extent thanks to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s preparatory works for the Kochi Metro. Necessary funds had also been allotted for the renovation of Edappally Canal, Ernakulam Market Canal, and Thevara-Perandoor Canal. He said that MLAs from the district were determined to ensure that proposals for infrastructure development of the district like the proposed flyovers found place in the next budget.

C.R. Neelakantan, a social activist, found a lack of rationality in the resource sharing. He said problems such as garbage management and drinking water scarcity faced by the district had its genesis in the unique status of the district, which put greater pressure on its resources.

“Industries and businesses in the district are the reasons why it is the biggest contributor to the State exchequer. That attracts more people here and hence addressing its problems is not just about resolving the problems of the district,” he said. Mr. Neelakantan said the same principle applied to the timely rehabilitation and compensation of people displaced in the district by development projects.

Excise Minister K. Babu, who is from the district, said the revenue contribution by the district and fund allocation for its development needs has been lopsided for many years.

He, however, claimed that there had been a marked difference in the situation since the United Democratic Front government came to power. The Minister cited the proposed Kochi Metro Rail and the numerous bridges for which administrative sanction had been given during the last one-and-a-half years to underline his claim.

“Besides, development should be even and therefore more funds need to be diverted towards undeveloped districts,” Mr. Babu said.

P.C. Cyriac, a former bureaucrat and a social activist, felt that the complaint that the district was being denied funds in proportion to its contribution to the State exchequer rang hollow. “How many projects have been dropped owing to lack of funds? Funds are being mobilised for all proposed projects in one way or another,” he said.

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