KOCHI: A silence blanketed Thekkumveettil House on Shantipuram Road at Palarivattom here as a sea of crowd swept to the residence of Mercy Williams, the former Mayor of Kochi, who passed away at the age of 65 on Wednesday.
Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany was among the first to pay tributes to the first woman Mayor of the city.
Senior LDF councillor M Anilkumar, Deputy Mayor B Bhadra, Corporation standing committee head T J Vinod Kumar and GCDA chairman N Venugopal also rushed to the spot to pay respects.
Mercy, who was born and brought up in Fort Kochi, studied at St Teresa’s. After securing an MA degree in Sociology with first rank and gaining a gold medal from the college, she joined St Teresa’s College as a lecturer and served there for over 25 years.
She joined politics after retiring as the head of Sociology Department from the college. The move surprised many. But the LDF independent candidate not just swept votes to become a first-time councillor, but also became the first woman Mayor of Kochi city.
“Known for her sincere and straight-forward approach, babus were afraid of her. Consequently, corruption allegations were comparatively low during her tenure,” said Anil Kumar.
Mercy was sworn in as Mayor when Kochi was gripped by an absolute crisis on waste management front. The dumping of waste at Willington Island had to be stopped due to complaints from the Navy.
A similar situation emerged at Cheranalloor owing to public agitation. Heaps of waste remained on roads with no place to dump.
It was for the Mayor to face the heat, remembered senior journalists.
“Mercy issued a bylaw for waste management, a first in the state, which gave buckets to every house for decentralised waste segregation. Kochi was announced a ‘binless’ city.
“Spadework was started for Brahmapuram plant and plastic bouquets were abhorred even in public functions,” said a veteran journalist. Mercy could also effectively liaison with the Delhi circle to get funds pumped in for big ticket projects in Kochi, including ADB loan and JNNURM funding.
Altogether, the city received `900 crore for projects during her tenure. When she left the chair, it was not without begetting ‘the most clean city award in India’ for Kochi from the then Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.