KOCHI: As Justice V R Krishna Iyer bids adieu after 100 years of eventful life, he leaves behind two great causes for the public to champion - a Cancer Center at Kochi and Ernakulam Medical College at Kalamassery. But for this great personality, the take over of Ernakulam Medical College and laying of the foundation stone for the Cancer Centre would have been a cry in the wilderness. However, with his death question arises as to who will now continue to fight for these two projects.
On January, 27, 2014, Krishna Iyer, at a ripe old age of 99, sat on a dharna, the first one in his life, for three hours straight under a scorching sun when the government went back on its promise to help set up a cancer centre.
“The dharna is to mark our disappointment over the non-allocation of funds for the cancer centre. We were promised, on numerous occasion, by the CM that our demands would be met. But we are still struggling to give wings to the dreams of the people. We request our Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take note of our plight,” he had said.
Barely a few hours after the dharna, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy declared `5 crore for the cancer centre and bowing to the demand of Justice Krishna Iyer movement, noted oncologist Dr V P Gangadharan was appointed the special officer for the Cancer Centre. Recently, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Justice Iyer he extended all help to the noble endeavour.
Dr V P Gangadharan said, “It’s our duty to pursue these projects. Every one should persevere and the new cancer centre should be set up under government’s aegis.”
However, it has come to fore that the government is planning to go in for the ‘Annuity Model’ under which private investors will be invited to build it. This move is directly opposite to Justice Krishn Iyer’s demand.
“We will not allow it. We will take up the cause with great zeal and will do everything in power to make his dreams - cancer centre and a full fledged Ernakulam medical college-a reality,” said former collector and a volunteer of Justice V R Krishna Iyer movement.
Dr Sanil Kumar, another volunteer recollects,”He only wanted to hear good news regarding these projects. He used to inquire about in every now and then. He used to call the CM and other ministers whenever needed. Though he used to get tired easily he never backed down from anything to do with the people.”
Iyer took up the issue of EMC after the government neglected its development for 12 years. He put tremendous pressure on the government such that it had no other alternative but to take over the institution. His team consists of critic M K Sanu, former collector K R Vishwambharan and Dr Sanil Kumar. The team grew and came to be known as the ‘Justice Krishna Iyer Movement’. After taking up the issue of the medical college, they began a movement for the setting up of a cancer centre at Kochi. At the outset, apart from the public, they did not have sufficient support. But Justice Iyer persistence earned dividends and the government had to bow down before his demands.