Washermen up in arms over parking plaza plan

Space wars: A view of the Muthalakkulam ground in Kozhikode.

Space wars: A view of the Muthalakkulam ground in Kozhikode.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP


Members of community say they were kept in dark about project

The Kozhikode Corporation Council’s proposal for a parking plaza, toilets and a meeting place at the Muthalakkulam grounds in the heart of the city has not gone down well with members of the Vannan community who have been washing clothes of city residents for centuries there.

Members of around 40 families are now engaged in the job there and the clothes are mainly collected from hotels and lodges in the city.

Some of them told the media here on Saturday that they had been kept in the dark about the plan to convert the ground into a parking lot and the information came to them through newspapers.

P. Viji, leader of the Asanghatitha Mekhala Thozhilali Union, who accompanied them, claimed that both the Deputy Mayor and the Corporation secretary had told them that they would be informed about the developments soon.

R. Rajan, who is among those now engaged in washing, claimed that they were given property rights during the time of the British. However, after Independence, the land within their hold had shrunk from 1.24 acres to 90 cents. A temple came up there along with an office of the Telephones Department. Political parties started using the venue for their protests and meetings. Government and private agencies started conducting trade fairs, often removing the clothes while they were drying it, he said.

Mr. Rajan claimed that some of those who were evicted in the 90s with an offer of five cents of land were given flats at Kalluthankadavu. K.P. Philomina and A.M. Rugmini claimed they could not stay in the flats as it would affect their work.

“The Corporation is now showing a 2007 document to claim that the land at Muthalakkulam belongs to them. However, we have documents to prove our ownership, which clearly says any improvements on the property should be made only after taking us into confidence. The plaza will come up only over our bodies,” said Mr. Rajan. Members of the community were planning to file applications under the Right to Information Act to get data on ownership rights, added Ms. Viji.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 7:15:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/washermen-up-in-arms-over-parking-plaza-plan/article30126415.ece

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