KOCHI: With Kochi entering the race to becoming a ‘Smart City,’ every inch of land counts. With real estate booming and entrepreneurs willing to shell out crores for a prime spot in the city, land is a prized possession.
However, costing a huge amount to the exchequer, many redundant and insignificant government offices with little public utility, occupy prime spots in the city, which if leased out can bring in crores to the civic body.
This, according to experts, reflects the lack of long-term scientific town planning and poor coordination between different departments.
“Many of these departments were established during the time of erstwhile Travancore state. Though very few people visit these institutions, shifting them to another location, say suburbs, may not go down well with the public,”says Sohan K J, former Mayor of Kochi Corporation.
Express has compiled a list of three not-so-in-demand offices situated in the heart of the city.
The public outcry seeking shifting of the infamous abattoir,
considered to be a constant polluter of Perandoor Canal, began long back. Despite formulating different master plans during various terms of Corporation, nothing happened. The Abattoir, established in the early 60s, is eating a prime property, besides causing health issues. “Other than giving health issues and
everlasting stink, this abattoir hasn’t done anything good for us,” says a resident. However, the officials are in a dilemma. “The major problem lies at the shifting of the abattoir to some other place. Earlier, there was a plan to shift it to Brahmapuram, but it didn’t happen due to various reasons. We will look into the possibility of developing the entire area with Smart City Mission,” says P M Harris, chairman of Works Committee, Kochi Corporation.
Irrigation Office - Canal Section
The office of Canal officer under the Irrigation Department issues licenses to travel boats all over the district. The office situated in the centre of the city is in a dilapidated condition. Forget basic facilities like electricity or file storage, there is not even a door or window. It floods during every rainy season. The office established “at the time of Diwan” is infested by creepers and crawlies. “We had four offices at Paravur, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. Gradually all of them were shut down and we are entrusted with issuing the license to the whole district,” says an officer. The entire office has just four employees.
According to the officials, the entire office was flooded during last monsoon and had to temporarily shift to nearby Irrigation Department. “As it is an easily accessible location, we are forced to remain here. With the onset of Water Metro project, we hope for a better facility. Even if it is shifting to another place, we are happy,” he adds.
District Animal Husbandry Office
Established around the early 1900s, the office comprises district veterinary office, regional hospital and the office of Animal Disease Control Project (ADCP). But, other than attending to pets, the institution doesn’t make much sense to the common man. The office is ill-equipped too. “They always lack emergency medicines. For the public, the facilities provided are far from desired,” said a resident of Panampilly Nagar. However, officials paint a different picture. “This is the referral animal husbandry hospital of the entire Ernakulam district. Despite facing staff crunch and lack of facilities, the hospital provides 24 hours service to the public,” says Mary James, Ernakulam District Veterinary Officer. But, the officials say important cases are treated at the field, and not at the institution. “We normally have around 1,000 plus cases every month. It will be dogs and cats, mostly. For other animals, we treat them at the field,” says Dr Aiswarya, a duty doctor at the hospital.