THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:A silent walkout by the opposition - UDF and BJP - from the urgent meeting which was convened on Wednesday to discuss exclusion of the capital city from the Smart City project turned out to be a damp squib. This was not something new for the Corporation, which has been witness to several unfruitful discussions in the past.
Maheswaran Nair, senior member of the UDF, started the session. He spoke on the master plan of the Vizhinjam port project, Light Metro, development of East Fort, implementation of sewage projects under JNNURM, failure in executing a sustainable waste management mechanism, poor utilisation of funds for Scheduled Castes and failure in the productive and agricultural sectors. He concluded by stating that the meeting to discuss the exclusion of the capital city from the Smart City project was just an election stunt.
Dissent began to brew when UDF leader Johnson Joseph attempted to speak right after Maheswaran Nair, who was supposed to be succeeded by LDF leader V S Padmakumar. Thanks to the collective composure by the opposition, the hall witnessed the most peaceful walkout in recent times. The walkout was staged even as Padmakumar continued accusing the government of shedding ‘crocodile tears’ when it came to the growth of the state capital. He pointed out the lack of clarity in the implementation of the Vizhinjam port project, Light Metro and activities related to town planning.
The BJP followed suit, joining the walkout, even as its members were irked by the remarks against the NDA government during the discussion. They quoted figures in crores of rupees on the Central assistance allotted after the NDA government came to power, such as the viability fund for Vizhinjam project and fillip for Kazhakkoottam-Karode Bypass. BJP leader P Asok Kumar even dared to say that the Smart City project could be implemented, only if his party came to power. The civic body has called the stand of the government unilateral for prioritising Kochi to shove aside the capital.