Saturday, June 11, 2011

13 years on, NGO quarters yet to be alloted

KOCHI: Getting an accommodation in the NGO quarters still remains a distant reality for many government employees.
Though the district administration has started evicting unauthorised occupants, the list of those seeking an accommodation in the NGO quarters has been pending since 1998.
A source said, “I submitted my application in 2007. There are slight chances for me to get quarters, as I belong to the reservation category.”
When asked about the pending list, Harikumar, head clerk, General Administration, said, “We are helpless as many occupants had acquired the quarters by giving a special request to the government.”
“Though the District Collector is vested with the power to allot the quarters, the State Government can overrule it, at any time, as per the provision that existed till 2010. Seniority, which is a major factor in acquiring government quarters, was also frequently overruled. About 95 percent of the occupants has acquired the quarters in this manner and most of them are high court staff,” he said.
“Although the district administration has started evicting unauthorised occupants, the task of allocating quarters is going to be nerve-wracking for the authorities concerned until the Public Works Department shows green light in the matter,” General Administration sources said.
“As some of the quarters are in a dilapidated stage, these could not be allocated by the PWD,” they added.
“The quarters are usually allocated to Class I, II, III and IV. Usually, the Class I category is in the
habit of breaking rules. As per the rule, a retired government employee has to vacate quarters the very first day he retires. But that
does not happen. The District Collector has the power to extend the stipulated
time to six months. But
there are many who have exceeded the time limit,” Harikumar said.
“We evicted 10 unauthorised occupants, out of which three of them were staying for the past two years. An occupant who was staying alone, too, was evicted, as these quarters are meant for families,” he said. As many as 38 other occupants were under close scrutiny and procedures were on to evict them, he added.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lazy corporation blames punctual monsoon

KOCHI: It seems that the efforts by the Corporation to ward off severe water-logging in the city stand thwarted, owing to the inordinate delay in the completion of the precautionary measures before the onset of monsoon.
The canal desilting work that began a few days ago has been stuck up with the timely arrival of monsoon. The scooped-up silt was not removed before the onset of monsoon and this has aggravated the problem.
"The cleaning of the canal was supposed to be completed by the end of May. The silt that has been accumulated on the fringes of the roads has already caused trouble to pedestrians. This scooped-up silt has reentered the canal which has destroyed the whole purpose of desilting," Elamakkara councillor Anil Kumar said.
He also alleged that the present council has not taken any steps to proceed with the procedures that were almost completed by the previous council.
"We have taken painstaking efforts to complete the procedures to clean the drains. The plans devised under the Esteem project have gone awry. This council did nothing but sitting on it," he said.
On the status of the ongoing drain works, Works Committee Chairperson Soumini Jain said, "We tried our level best to complete them on time. But it was all spoiled with the timely arrival of monsoon. Besides, the election code of conduct was another factor."
It is learnt that there are 18 projects to construct adequate drains only in the Central zone. Only four have been completed so far.
The construction of a major drain from MG Road to Flower Junction a month ago has completed its first phase. "As this drain passes through the Market Road, which is a busy area, we are rethinking on the plan," she said.

published in The NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rain lands city in troubled waters

South Monsoon has hit Kerala on time. But the authorities are blind to what is happening in the city.This situation prevails not only in Kochi but all other districts.

KOCHI: The threat of an epidemic outbreak is looming large over the city due to severe water-logging and overflowing drains at several places.

   Many roads in the city and suburbs remain waterlogged as there is no proper facility to drain stagnant water. Though monsoon has hit Kerala, the district health authorities have not come up with any substantial steps to alleviate the woes of the people.

Health Standing Committee chairman T K Ashraff said, "We are convening a meeting on Friday. A decision will be taken to form a squad that would be responsible to deal with any situation arising in the wake of an epidemic outbreak. Health inspectors and junior inspectors will be members of the squad and they will strictly monitor the situation." K J Jacob, councillor, Gandhinagar, said, "A meeting was convened a few days ago to take preventive measures. Since then, no steps have been taken to prevent an epidemic outbreak."

"Water-logging is a common phenomenon during rainy season. But the water should drain out within an hour. If this does not happen, the risk of catching diseases is high as the stagnant water will get mixed with the sewage water. In my division, there is severe water-logging," he said.

He also said that as the district administration has not come up with a substantial plan, people are depending on homeo clinics for preventive medicines.

However, Dr Amritha Kumari, District Medical Officer (DMO), Homeo, said, "We are also giving medicines to boost the immunity level of a person."

Dr Sudhakaran, District Medical Officer (DMO), said, "We have come up with many awareness programmes that would educate the people. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) is one such programme. We have also put up many hoardings in several parts of the city to create awareness among  the people."

published in The New Indian Express

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Althatara is a residential area in Thiruvananthapuram, which is the capital of God's own country - Kerala

THIRUVANATHAPURAM: The hue and cry over waste-dumping is not something new in the city. Althara, a residential area, has unwillingly followed suit. A vacant plot in Althara has now been transformed into an unauthorised trash dump much to the horror of the residents.

“Coping with the stench arising out of this waste deposit every day is not an easy task,” said C X Antony, whose house is close to this property.

When asked who should be held responsible for the dumping,  he said: “It is not easy to find out who is actually doing this, as there are not one but many.”
People who are not ready to pay money to the Kudumbashree units to pick wastes dump their wastes here, sometimes early in the morning or late in the night, which makes it difficult to identify them, he said. There were times, when his house was constantly haunted by snakes.
“Fish mongers also worsen the situation as they dump the waste here. If there is any maintenance work going on in any of the houses in that area, they too dump their wastes here. People are reluctant to dump even drainage wastes. When a dog or cat dies, it would be wrapped in a plastic cover and thrown here,” he said.

Pedestrians are also bearing the brunt as the waste often spills on to the road. Shanthini Jayadevan, a veterinary doctor and also a resident who lives at the other end of the property, said: “The people are not cooperative and that makes it all the more difficult to find a solution to this common problem. The plot has become a grazing field for snakes, stray dogs and other creatures."
The stray dogs pose another threat, she said, especially to her two school-going children.
A fire broke out on the plot thrice and the residents believe that it was done deliberately by those who were depositing waste as the mound of garbage was increasing beyond limits.
Two years ago, the residents had filed complaints with the Health Department as well as with the City Corporation through their Residents’ Association. But the situation still remains the same. When contacted, G Mohan, the then Residents’ Association president, said that he had brought the matter to the attention of the authorities and measures were taken to clean the property.  “We were also able to make the authorities conduct intermittent inspections then.” He said that fining those persons who dump the waste could be a solution.
Althara councillor K Suresh Kumar said that arrangements were made to clean the road whenever he spotted waste spilling on to the road from this property. “But as this is a private property, the Corporation has its own limitations. Fining the persons who dump waste is not an ideal option as they must be doing it in the wee hours,” he said.

When contacted, Pushpalatha, Chairperson, Health Standing Committee, said that so far nobody had brought the matter to her attention and that the Committee would soon look into the matter

by Shalet Jimmy