‘Panchayats should act as local government’

By Express News Service :

10th April 2012 08:01 AM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In order to achieve grama swaraj, grama panchayats must be given powers which enable them to act as local government, P Gopinathan Nair, all-India chairman of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, has said.

 “People think that the function of the grama sabha is to provide incentives, but the people must realise that Parliament is a grama sabha,” he opined.

 Gopinathan Nair was inaugurating a training programme for people’s representatives from Poovar, Vizhinjam and Venganoor areas the other day. The training programme, meant to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system, was held at Chappath Santhigram. Anto Marcelin, president, Poovar panchayat, presided over the function. Classes were led by G Shankar (chairman, Habitat Technology Group), Ammukutty George (president, Kazhakkumkara Mahila Samajam) and R K Sundaram (chairman, Santhigram).

 In the coming days, Prof T S N Pillai (chairman, Board of Social Work, University of Kerala), Dr Aby George (assistant professor, KILA) and P K Kunjiraman (member, Juvenile Justice Board), among others, will lead the classes.

Vizhinjam project: LDF, UDF exchange fire

By Express News Service:

02nd April 2011 12:49 AM

THIRUVANATHAPURAM: With the elections around the corner, the prestigious Vizhinjam seaport project has emerged as a bone of contention between the LDF and the UDF.

Always an emotional issue with the people of Thiruvananthapuram, the much-delayed project – now estimated at ` 6,000 crore – is being paraded as one of its successes by the LDF. Predictably, the UDF has seen red.

Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy has now pulled up the Left Government for  dragging the project. The LDF had, in effect, torpedoed a project which the previous UDF government had brought to the threshold of implementation.

Oommen Chandy blamed Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who heads the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd as chairman, for the botch-up. Now, at the approach of the election, the LDF had hastily cobbled together contracts and deals, he alleged.

To prop up his argument, Chandy cites the environment appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s instructions to the State Government last January. In it, the committee had criticised the lack of a concrete proposal for the multi-crore project. The committee had given the State a set of seven instructions, which included a detailed study on the environment and social impact the project would have on Vizhinjam.

While the UDF has latched on to the latter half of the committee’s decision, the LDF has found enough ammunition in one paragraph of the committee’s minutes to attack the LDF with. In it, the committee has drawn attention to the fact that new ports and container terminal projects are being planned all along the tip of the southern peninsula. Indiscriminate port projects could damage the shoreline, the committee had noted.

Since all the projects mentioned except two – Vizhinjam and Vallarpadam – are in Tamil Nadu, the LDF has portrayed the committee’s decision as an attempt by the Centre to scuttle Vizhinjam’s chances and protect Tamil Nadu’s.

 Meanwhile, the ‘Watchdog committee on climate change’ of Santhigram, Kerala, has written to Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh saying that the project as presently conceived by the State Government would seriously endanger the drinking water sources of the people in the area.

"The project area mainly covers four panchayats, namely, Vizhinjam, Kottukal, Venganoor and Balaramapuram. The population of the surrounding area numbering around three lakhs depends on the water sources of this area, particularly in Kottukal panchayat.

Currently, Kottukal water bodies provide drinking water to residents of nine panchayats. The Special Land Acquisition authority appointed by the State has already started acquiring the water-rich lowlands of Kottukal. This was done without conducting an environment impact study and we have raised this issue before the authorities," the committee said in its letter.

Santhigram organizes Social audit

By Express News Service :

28th June 2010 12:52 AM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Santhigram on Sunday organised a social audit to assess the progress of a project kicked off by it with the support of the Science and Society Division, Department of Science and Technology (DST) in April 2009 for Scheduled Caste communities in Kottukal grama panchayat.

In the first phase of the programme, a biogas plant in Moolakkara and a rainwater harvesting unit in Chinnanvila were inaugurated on February 27, 2010. ‘Sthreeshakthi Vanitha Unit,’ Moolakkara, a group organised for production of value-added products from jackfruit and other fruits, was inaugurated on April 29, 2010. Under the aegis of the Grama Jyothi Women’s unit, Chinnanvila, a flour and grinding mill was inaugurated on Sunday.

“The Social Audit Team reviewed and assessed the activities of the project during the first year. The second edition of the citizen’s charter published by Santhigram also was released on the occasion,’’ Santhigram director L. Pankajakshan said.

Assistant BDO Gopalakrishnan Nair released the citizen’s charter by handing over a copy to George Mercier MLA.


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