Kochi Metro: Yet Another Betrayal – N S Sajith



ONE of the most used points in the anti-Left propaganda is that Left stands against “development”. How untrue this canard is can be gauged from the record of successive Left governments. The Left and Democratic Front rule in Kerala during 2006-2011saw the state marching ahead industrially. Various new projects were started under that government. The prime priority of that government was to reopen the industrial units that were closed down during the previous UDF government. It also focused on new generation sectors like IT apart from  infrastructure development. The initial steps for the Kochi Metro were taken by the LDF. The then chief minister V S Achuthananandan and the then finance minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac held a series of discussions with DMRC managing director E Sreedharan and Planning Board vice chariman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and had the successful Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) associated with the project.

But the new UDF government is bent on getting rid of the DMRC from the project. The government announced in a casual manner that there would be global tenders for Kochi Metro leading to disdain from DMRC which is already associated with the project. It announced that it will withdraw from Kochi Metro project if the government is going ahead on its own. The hope of the people of Kochi to have a state of the art public transport system in Kochi, the largest and thickly populated city in the state, was shattered by the UDF government’s move to deliberately avoid DMRC from this project.

The opposition saw a huge case of corruption in the UDF government’s move, as recently the bank account of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) was given to a bank managed by a close relative of the chief minister Ommen Chandy.  The opposition leaders alleged that government is planning to award the project to other companies instead of DMRC, a public sector unit which is well known for its transparency and its spectacular track record. CPI(M) leaders P Rajeev, MP, and T  M Thomas Isaac, MLA, said that there was ‘a mystery behind the latest moves on the part of the state government to get rid of E Sreedharan and DMRC’.

KMRL managing director Tom Jose said he had no information about such a decision of the DMRC but added that its withdrawal would in no way affect the timely implementation of the 26 km metro rail project. The KMRL would start the implementation of the project once the necessary clearance came from the centre, he said.

The cold war between the two metro companies reached a flashpoint after Tom Jose wrote to the DMRC to inform that it could participate in the open tender process planned for selecting the implementation agency. The DMRC reportedly felt slighted at this as it had been associated with the Kochi Metro project right from the very beginning.

Warning the UDF government, CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan called upon the people of Kerala to prevent a situation in which Kochi Metro project would be scuttled. “The government is planning to get rid of DMRC from the project and try to invite private players in the name of global tender. This will lead to loss of the expertise of DMRC and experience of E Sreedharan. The project should be taken up as early as possible in the public sector”, said Pinarayi. He wanted the chief minister Chandy to come clean on why the government wants to go for a global tender for this project when the expertise for this has been proved by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. He asserted that the people of Kerala are keen to get an answer from Chandy on this.

Leader of opposition, V S Achuthanandan charged that the move to get rid of DMRC was meant for indulging in huge corruption. “E Sreedharan has proved his excellece by successfully completing projects like Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro and was burning the midnight oil to realise the Rs 5000 crore Kochi Metro. The LDF government had initiated the project by allotting Rs 150 crore and constructed the KMRL office. It had also allotted Rs 50 crore for infrastructure development like constructing bridges”, he said.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and former state home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also charged the UDF government of trying to get rid of DMRC in order to get kickbacks from new private parties. He demanded that at no cost should the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation be removed from the project.

Even the union minister Vayalar Ravi has asked the Chandy government to be cautious in the way the state government went about this project.

Sreedharan said that it was for the state government to take a final decision on the implementation of the Kochi Metro rail project. Refusing to speak on the controversy over the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s role in the implementation of the project, he said that DMRC got involved in the project following repeated appeals made by both the UDF and former LDF governments.

 

DILLY DALLYING

ON BYE-ELECTION

It is a panic situation for the UDF to face a bye-election in Kerala now. As the election for Piravam constituencey in Eranakulam district is due, the ruling front is trying to keep its options open till the end. The state government has not approached the Election Commission for conducting the election so far.

The bye-election in Piravam is necessitated due to the death of civil supplies minister and Kerala Congress (J) leader T M Jacob on October 31, 2011. After the death of an elected representative, the election should be conducted within six months. But the delaying tactics of the UDF may put the election off to April.

This is quite a testimony to the nervousness in the UDF as the anti-incumbency feeling is already high in the state. The recent developments like Mullapperiyar dam issue and scent of corruption in Kochi Metro affair have also pushed the UDF on to the back foot. It was anticipated that the election date for Piravam may be announced along with the announcement of assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh and other states.

Soon after the death of T M Jacob, UDF had started the electioneering by annoucing Jacob’s son Anup Jacob as its candidate. The LDF also put up former legislator M J Jacob in the fray. In the last assembly election held in April 2011, M J Jacob has lost the seat by a thin margin of 150 votes. The death of T M Jacob has further reduced the strength of the UDF in the assembly to 71 from 72 in the 140 member assembly.

 

RECEPTION COMMITTEE

OFFICE INAUGURATED

In the midst of raising slogans by hundreds of Party workers, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai inaugurated the reception committee office of the 20th CPI(M) Party Congress which is scheduled to be held in Kozhikode from April 4 to 9 this year.

The office is located at Wayanad Road near NGO Union Hall in the city. The inaugural function saw attendance from a cross section of the city life as political and cultural leaders, writers, trade union leaders, social activists turned up.

CPI(M) state committee member and former industries minister Elamaram Kareem presided over the function. Among those who were present included CPI(M) district secretary and Reception Committee general secretary T P Ramakrishnan,  state committee member and former district secretary M Kelappan, well known scientist and environmental activist Dr Achuthan, Mayor Professor A K Premajam, well known writer P Valsala and several senior CPI(M) leaders. The various subcommittees of Reception Committee started functioning from this office.

Speaking on the occasion, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai has said that the draft ideological document to be presented before the Party Congress would be finalised by the Party central committee, which is to be held in Kolkata, next month. The Polit Bureau has already discussed it and submitted to the central committee for its perusal.

The draft political resolution also has been finalised by the Polit Bureau. The central committee has to give its nod for the document before it goes to the Party Congress. He said that by the third week of January, both documents, ideological as well as political, will be published for discussion. All the Party units would discuss the documents and propose their amendments and suggestions.

People who are not members of the CPI(M) can also propose their amendments on the ideological document and political resolution. He said that the Party Congress will analyse the political and economical developments that took place during the last fifty years ever since the formation of the CPI(M) as part of its exercise to arrive at a fresh ideological understanding.

The new understanding would naturally influence Party’s strategy, tactics as well as the organisational tasks. The Party Congress will formulate fresh tactical line to equip the Party to respond to current challenges. Pillai said that capitalism was facing grave crisis all over the world. The waves of protest against neo-liberal policies of capitalist regimes erupted even on the Wall Street.

In India, unity among workers to fight against neo-liberal prescriptions is growing. All the trade unions, irrespective of their political leanings, have called for a public strike on February 28 against the capitalist policies. Such unity among workers and trade unions is unprecedented in the political history of India, he said.

SHORT FILM

COMPETITION

As part of CPI(M) 20th Party Congress, the cultural sub committee of the Reception Committee is conducting a short film competition on the topic ‘Marx Is Right’. The length of the film should be of five minutes duration. The films, shot in CD or DVD formats, should reach to the following address on or before March 20, 2012: Convenor, Cultural Committee, CPI(M) 20th Party Congress, Reception Committee Office, Bank Road, Kozhikode. Pin: 673001. The films can be shot in any language and English sub titles are necessary.

The best film will be awarded with Rs 25,000 cash prize, announced the convenor, Purushan Kadalundi who is a sitting MLA.

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