THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Development and its infrastructure will definitely be one of the core areas of focus for city voters, ahead of this year's election. With a lot of votes riding on the topic of development of the city, the candidates to the Lok Sabha can no more afford to turn a blind eye towards the developmental needs of the city. Experts in the field have unanimously voiced on the need to give due stress to the city's developmental needs, which they feel is being hijacked to other districts. The need to ensuring better connectivity to the capital, good road networks and comprehensive development of the capital are the main aspects that experts have laid stress on.
Nothing has been pivotal in changing the face of the city than the Thiruvananthapuram City Roads Improvement Project (TCRIP) which gave a new dimension to the city, say experts. Former director of TRDCL Anilkumar Pandala who spearheaded the project that gave a makeover to the city says that better connectivity is integral for city's development. “The next phase of road development should be aimed at developing the stretches towards Neyyattinkara, Attingal, Kattakada and Nedumangad. Six-lane widening of these roads will ensure that the outer regions are developed and thereby a comprehensive development of the city will be ensured. Moreover, construction of high rises must be banned inside the city and should be allowed only on the outer regions of the city," he said.
"It has to be noted that whatever development that came to the city happened on its own, and not much with the involvement of the politicians. No political party is keen on the development of the city. We are losing many projects to Cochin and beyond and those regions are getting developed at the expense of Thiruvananthapuram. This is being reflected in the Thiruvananthapuram airport issue as well,” he added. Although there are many issues such as waste management that needs to be addressed, ensuring road safety is an urgent need, he says. "Very little is being done for road safety. It is an aspect that is of least importance for the officials. There is danger lurking at every nook and cranny of the roads. There has to be a political consensus when it comes to ensuring road safety,” he added.
The members of the Federation of Residents' Associations Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT) feel that ensuring safe drinking water and good road networks, and solving the parking woes in the city. “ The dip in the water table is another grave issue," said Paraniyam Devakumar, patron, FRAT. “The rampant increase of the high rises and apartments in the city has lead to the drastic depletion of groundwater level. This is a grave issue and unless efforts are taken to raise the ground water level, it will lead to water shortage and its ramifications will be huge. Apart from that, availability of pesticide-free food is the need of the hour," he says. The deploring state of the roads is another issue which needs to be addressed. "Every vehicle owner pays the road tax and the deserve good roads. There are roads that have been remaining in dilapidated state for years, " he added, stressing on the need to have good connectivity.
According to SN Raghuchandran Nair, president of the Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the capital has been grievously sidelined in all the major projects, which are mostly being hijacked to other districts. "The development of the city is being affected by many lobbies and the attitude of the politicians who have scant regards to the development of the city. Over the years the needs of the capital have been severely neglected. We don't have a godfather and none takes ownership to of the capital and it remains neglected," said Raghuchandran Nair who is also the initiator of 'Awake Trivandrum'.
Cries for a High Court Bench get louder and louder
The demand to reinstate a High Court Bench in the capital city is gaining momentum. According to members of Federation of Residents' Associations Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT), the stress must be on reinstating the High Court Bench. "The government is the litigant in the majority of the cases coming before the High Court. We are not asking to set up a new bench, but reinstating the bench we had earlier," said Paraniyam Devakumar, patron, FRAT. "A lot of money and time can be saved if the High Court Bench is reinstated. The revenue loss incurred in officials travelling back and forth between the capital and Kochi for the court cases can be avoided,” said Paraniyam Devakumar, patron, FRAT.
The recent controversy regarding the privatisation of the Thiruvananthapuram International airport has led to some of the major companies putting their plans on hold to establish themselves in the capital, say experts. Good connectivity, according to them, is of utmost importance. "Developing the infrastructure and connectivity via road, rail and air should be our priority," said Raghuchandran Nair, Awake Trivandrum founder, while stressing that reinstatement of the High Court bench is also a key issue. "About 60 per cent of the cases coming up at the High Court has government as the litigant. Development does not have politics and we should never compromise on development. Thiruvananthapuram must get its due share and weight,” he added.
The youth forum which roots for development of the city named 'Trivandrum Development Forum' feels that bringing out the tourism potential of the capital, bringing more industries and manufacturing units, ensuring good road network and connectivity are integral for the development. "Ensuring direct connectivity to the district is paramount for bringing in private players. We need more public sector and private sector units in the city. Tourism is another aspect that needs to be projected," said Shelly R S, member Trivandrum Development Forum. "The city is being sidelined in the tourism sector when compared to other districts. Barring very few tourism spots in the capital, rest are relegated to the sidelines and are not promoted much," he said.