Dr D Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR, quoted in The New Indian Express.Talking about the Greater Cochin Development Authority, he stresses on the need to prevent fragmentation of powers b/w developmental agencies & need to empower elected local bodies.

Image source: The New Indian Express

KOCHI: Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), perhaps more familiar to the city’s denizens as GCDA, was originally set up with the aim of ushering in Kochi city’s all-round development. Now, over 40 years on, the authority, which was the first-of-its-kind in the state exclusively for the development of an urban area, is slowly turning into a white elephant, feels stakeholders of city’s development.

They said it’s high time the agency is revamped and its borders expanded to the greater agglomeration area. They are pitching for the formation of a Greater Cochin Metropolitan Authority which can become the umbrella body coordinating the development activities of a wider area.

“For instance, it was C N Mohanan who took over as GCDA chairman after the LDF Government came to power in 2016. But after remaining  GCDA chief for one and a half years, Mohanan stepped down and V Saleem succeeded him. However, GCDA  is not carrying out any major projects in the city now.  This should change. The agency has a sprawling headquarters, enough staff, engineers and town planners with them. However, it is a big question why they are not able to carry out big development projects in the City,” said former Ernakulam MP K V Thomas.

The GCDA which in the past implemented big-ticket projects like Kaloor Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, has not come up with any capital intensive projects in the last 15 years. “ There are similar agencies in many other Indian cities. The major issue here is that the mandate of such agencies will be different from that of the respective corporations’ mandate.

Here, we have the Kochi Corporation, which has elected representatives.  We have another body, the District Planning Committee. Likewise, we have many development bodies and agencies. But most of them are not vested with the powers to implement a project alone. That is why the need for merging these agencies becomes important,” said D Dhanuraj chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a city-based think tank.

Ex-GCDA chief’s assertion on Kochi Metropolitan City

N Venugopal, who had served as Greater Cochin Development Authority(GCDA) chairman under the previous UDF Government, said necessary documents for seeking the Centre’s nod for the formation of Kochi Metropolitan Area had been submitted before the state government during his tenure. “However, be it Left or Right, the state Cabinet can’t be expected to  favour the proposal which will make the Metropolitan Authority a powerful body. It will have a greater say in the city’s development than the civic body which is not acceptable even to people’s representatives,” he said.

Dhanuraj, however, said the basic system under which the agency for city’s development is being controlled by political parties should change. “Instead of a person nominated by a political party, it should be an expert in city development who should be nominated as the chairman of the Metropolitan Authority. The city is set to witness a  seismic change in infrastructure development, once the UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority ) Act  takes shape. Hence, we can’t foresee a long-term future for agencies like GCDA,” added Dhanuraj. 

This news story can be also read at The New Indian Express’s website.