A statue in the middle of the Arabian Sea, swimming pools, milk distribution free of cost, toilets for everyone, shade trees on roadsides, massage and beauty parlours, IT parks and convention centres, city master plan, revenue master plan and what not. Since the last decade, each budget has been offering Kochiites a bag full of promises. But before long it has dawned on the people that they were being taken for a ride.
During the recent budget presentation, the opposition’s main allegation was that the budget was ‘meaningless’. It also said that Corporation had failed to roll out promises made in the last three budgets. But a recap of budgeting records over the past decade would turn the tables against them. The situation was no better when they were in power. While the Left ruled the city from 2002 to 2010, as the budget books show, they were indeed as good as the present UDF-led ruling council in announcing various schemes but seldom have the promises turned into reality.
Leafing over the old budget records, it is clear that announcements of development projects such as the Thammanam-Pullepady road, SA road, old railway station and Subhash Park renovation have became noting but ritualistic. The projects date back to the budget logs of 2002, when the LDF was ruling Kochi. The budget of 2002 also announced a business centre in Kaloor, sports community halls at Chakkaraparambu and Vyttila. It even went as far as announcing projects like building ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’, on the lines of the Statue of Liberty.
Sewage and septage treatment plant, waste management system, mosquito eradication programmes, steps to increase revenue, computerisation of the Corporation are projects that were much lauded, but failed to see the light.
Other tall schemes being announced from 2002 to this day are the eco-friendly city, women-friendly city and memorials for G Sankara Kurup and P J Antony. Other innovative projects like multi-level parking facilities, emergency fund for roads, disaster management clubs also remain on paper and gather dust.