C.N. Mohanan, new Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) chairman, gets sweets from his daughter after his taking charge on Monday. (Photo: DC)
Kochi: One of the top priorities of C.N Mohanan, the new chairman of the Greater Cochin Development Authority, would be to conserve the assets of the Authority and reclaim those that have been alienated. While addressing the media after assuming office on Monday, the new chairman made it clear that no one who was involved in alienating the land and property of the Authority would be spared. "During the term of the previous chairman, the Authority altered from its stated objectives. Such changes will be corrected while efforts would be made to attain the aim of comprehensive development of Kochi and adjoining municipalities and panchayats through a development-oriented approach," he said.
"A probe has already been ordered on the irregularities reported during the previous council’s term," he added. He assured that not even a cent of land or a single rupee of the Authority or the state government would be alienated during his term. He said that the new council would study each and every controversial project and steps would be taken to execute some of the pending projects like the proposed ring road which aims at decongesting city traffic.
"Housing schemes for the urban poor will be another priority. People with small land holdings get marginalised when their land gets acquired for development projects. GCDA will focus on the housing of such people so that they are not ousted from the city but get to live and work within the city," he said. He added that the new governing council would extend all possible support to the infrastructural development of Kochi. MLAs K.J Maxi, John Fernandez, CPM district secretary P. Rajeev, corporation education standing committee chairperson P Poornima Narayan, CPM leaders C.K Manisankar, K.J Jacob, P.N Seenulal, M. Anil Kumar and GCDA officials welcomed the new chairman.
Challenges galore for new chairman
From controversial projects to allegations of land scam, a series of challenges are in store for the new GCDA chairman C.N Mohanan, who took office more than six months after the exit of former head N. Venugopal. Even though the Authority could implement many infrastructure development works during the tenure of Venugopal, allegations of irregularities in land deals detracted from the sheen of the other projects.
Some of the unique project proposals like the ring road, convention centre at JN stadium, skywalk at Menaka, helium balloon at Marine Drive, cable car and dolphin park, tunnel marine aquarium at Marine Drive, one-kilometre circular mini train at KINCO jetty, indoor stadium and sports complex at Mundamveli, shopping mall at Manapattiparambu on BOT basis and multi-level parking facility at Marine Drive were either rejected by the state government or failed to materiaise due to more than one reason. Meanwhile, some other projects like the Mundamveli aqua farm project and the laser show at Rajendra Maidan got mired in legal disputes. The new chairman is expected to take up the projects based on feasibility and benefits. The cage fish farming at Mundamveli has triggered environmental and legal disputes and it will be a tricky affair to deal with.
C.N Mohanan has made it clear that a final decision on the project would be taken after reviewing all the aspects and discussing it in the general council. Though there were allegations of the destruction of vast areas of mangroves for the project, the previous chairman denied it. A technical committee of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority had identified that GCDA had not applied for any Coastal Regulation Zone clearance for the farm project. Similar is the case of the multimedia laser show at Rajendra Maidan which failed to evoke any response after the initial collection. It transpired that the project, which was expected to earn about Rs 50,000 a day did not even manage to earn enough to cover the daily expenses.