New ro-ro ferry service mooted

₹700-crore development projects for West Kochi proposed in budget

The Kochi Corporation has mooted a new roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service between the boat jetty near the High Court and Fort Kochi in its budget for the coming financial year. A ₹700-crore worth development project for West Kochi is also on the cards.

The civic body’s budget was presented by Deputy Mayor K.R. Premakumar on Monday at a hurried meeting that concluded in less than an hour to adhere to protocols in the wake of the COVID-19 spread.

₹8 crore has been set aside to make preparations for the new ro-ro service. The budget also proposes to make the existing service between Fort Kochi and Vypeen operational for 24 hours, besides offering free rides to the elderly, children below the age of six and differently abled persons. The service brought the corporation a profit of nearly ₹28 lakh in the previous financial year.

Break the Chain

A sum of ₹50 lakh has also been set aside to contribute to the Break the Chain campaign and develop a plan to deal with disease outbreaks in collaboration with residents’ associations, hospitals and Kudumbashree groups.

The only fresh big-ticket project in the year’s budget is a development plan for the 28 wards in West Kochi.

The project, which could cost ₹700 crore over multiple years, would involve dividing the area into two development zones and preparing detailed development plans considering the geographical and demographic features of each zone.

The plans, which will be drawn up by January next year, could cost ₹17.5 crore. Besides ensuring that basic services are provided to the area proportionate to its population, the project also envisages improving the standard of living of residents and offering opportunities for financial growth. Technical expertise and financial aid will be sought from the Central government and from international organisations.

Budget slammed

Opposition leaders lambasted the budget as old wine in a new bottle. “The corporation has failed in collecting taxes to increase its own income.

The budget does not contain any concrete measures to increase income and does not specify how oustanding debt will be resolved,” said LDF councillor V.P. Chandran. Several projects dealing with waste management at Brahmapuram, like setting up plastic shredding machines and aerobic composting, had merely been repeated in this year’s budget, he said.

The idea of floating municipal bonds as a way to augment funds at hand, which found a repeat mention in this year’s budget, would be put into action immediately, Mr. Premakumar said. Collection of entertainment tax, professional tax and service charges from Central government institutions in the city would also be intensified, he added.

The budget anticipates an increase in income of ₹15 crore through municipal bonds and strict collection of taxes. The prices for marriage registration and to obtain marriage and building ownership certificates would be hiked.

Income of over ₹988.88 crore and expenditure of a little over ₹955.83 crore were estimated.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:12:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/new-ro-ro-ferry-service-mooted/article31147076.ece

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