KOCHI: Being one of the largest municipalities in the state, the authorities have to go the extra mile to reach the benefits of developmental activities to the common people.
Spread in an area of 40.04 sqkm, Kothamangalam - the gateway to high ranges in central Kerala, has a slew of projects in the pipeline to redraw the momentum of development.
The municipality is sandwiched between sought-after tourist hotspots like Thattekkad, Bhoothathankettu, Pooyamkutty and Edamalayar in the state.
Hence it always acts as a stopover destination for travellers. Earlier, Kothamangalam was famous for agriculture commodities but with time these commodities gave way to rubber.
After the paradigm shift in trade, most trade is concentrated on rubber and gold. Now the 1400-strong traders at Kothamangalam fuel the growth of the area.
Various projects in the pipeline of the UDF-led council are shopping complexes and town hall, market complex, solid waste treatment plant and crematorium. But big ticket projects like Town Hall and International Stadium at Chelad have been stalled owing to political reasons.
“The major problem is the large size which poses a hurdle for the council when it comes to preparing a comprehensive development plan for the municipality,” said K P Babu, chairman, Kothamangalam Municipality.
“We are moving on a shoe string budget because of the non-revision of tax rates over the past 18 years. The total expense of the municipality in a month was `1.2 lakh then but now it is `20 lakh. We try hard to fund the dreams projects of the municipality such as town hall and crematorium,” he said.
The municipality produces about three tonnes of waste in a day.
“The work of the new solid waste treatment plant at Kumbalathumury for `1.25 crore is progressing and is expected to be completed in six months’ time.Another big project is the three-storeyed shopping complex project for `5.56 crore. The tender for the project will be floated in a month and the project is expected to be over in one and a half years,” said Babu.
On the other side of the development dreams of Kothamangalam lies the issue of lack of connectivity. Though many roads were proposed to catalyse connectivity they remain unfinished at various stages. These includeThangalam - Aramanappady bypass and Kothamangalam-Kakkanad 30 km road.
“The existing bypass at Kothamangalam became a reality only after efforts were put in for 20 years. Now other road projects at Kothamangalam have been stalled for various reasons. If the municipal authorities are not willing to take steps to complete these projects in time, Kothamangalam will miss the bus to development. In order to fuel trade and to give better facilities to the tourists connectivity is a must,” said E M Johny, president, Kothamangalam Merchants Association.
He pointed out that the completion of Kochi- Dhanushkodi National Highway and development of Old Munnar Road as part of hill highway project are other major projects that need special attention from the authorities concerned.