High hopes on new projects, but hurdles aplenty for dist panchayat

Besides initiatives like She taxis in all panchayats and health care for children, new council plans to revive underperforming projects like Jalasree. Implementation remains a challenge

Published: 04th January 2021 01:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2021 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Former district panchayat president V K Madhu with new president Suresh Kumar and vice-president A Shylaja Begum. V K Prasanth, MLA, looks on | Express

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: From deploying She taxis in all panchayats to setting up a comprehensive care project for children from birth to 18 years of age through health cards are first in the list of projects lined up by the district panchayat to be implemented in the next five years. Reviving underperforming projects like Jalasree is also part of the agenda. However, implementation remains a challenge mainly due to the non-availability of funds and sufficient human resources. 

The comprehensive child care project was supposed to be completed during the previous council’s tenure. However, Covid and related developments hampered progress. “Ashwas project through which free dialysis is being given to kidney patients and delivering medicines at home of patients who have undergone transplantation will be extended. At present, these services are given to members of families with income below `3 lakh,” said D Suresh Kumar, district panchayat president. The project currently has a budget of `1 crore and over `3 lakh is spent every month on medicines alone. While women-friendly projects have a share of 10 per cent of the total budget, critics feel that the fund is not utilised to full potential. 

“There are many examples for that including the ‘People’ project implemented in 2005-10 period. Through the project, woman entrepreneurs could market their products. There were 26 panchayats under the project. However, despite spending crores of rupees, there were no productive results. Such projects often end up as a means to buy material worth crores, which eventually end up with private parties who head the committees at the local level,” said Anad Jayan, UDF leader who was a district panchayat member from 2005 to 2020. 

Furthermore, the 30% budget share for agriculture produce and implementation of projects under it had also garnered criticism. “Often, the projects under this are limited to supplying seeds or saplings to people. No comprehensive project to increase production has been in place for long,” said Jayan. However, the situation has improved considerably with all local bodies now using barren and unused lands in their limits for cultivation. The ongoing works like road development and other infrastructure projects were hit because of Covid too. 

Asked about these delays, Shylaja Begum, vice-president of Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat who was the vice-president in the previous tenure too, said other than small delays in approving bills due to Covid, there are no issues with any ongoing projects. Revival of projects which didn’t get the expected reception will be a prime focus, she added. 

“Through Jalasree project, we were offering recharging and rainwater harvesting facility for `8,500 per person. We will come up with a new project for solving water woes on the lines of Jalasree,” said Begum. Initially launched with the aim of harvesting rainwater in over 880 schools in the district, the project was later modified to accommodate individuals after schools showed not much enthusiasm for it. 

Other Projects

Padheyam: Over 93 lakh food parcels supplied. The district panchayat delivers food packets to 5,000 people in 73 panchayats daily
Green Milk: Product of Thiruvananthapuram District Panchayat from two farms in Vithura and Poovachal
Raksha: Women Empowerment project
Samanwaya: Employment generation for members of transgender community


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