CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a news article published in The Times of India, Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) should be either shut down or should be brought under the Kochi municipal corporation.

Calls for efficient utilization of Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), which is idling away its assets and human resources, is not new. But the urgency for it is being felt with the city registering a fast growth.
“It is a travesty that a development authority, which played a crucial role in the city’s development, is made to stay idle like this,” says May Mathew, former secretary, GCDA. She feels that there is a need to transform it into an agency for coordinating development work in the Kochi UA (urban agglomeration) region.
A proposal for transforming GCDA into a Metropolitan Area Development Authority was mooted as early as 2013 but political consensus is key to such a proposal.

“When Nagarpalika Act came into being, a lot of responsibilities of GCDA were taken away. It is up to the state government to decide what role it should play. There are a lot of things GCDA can do as it has both assets and resources. Transforming it into a development authority for the urban agglomerate region would be ideal,” said V Salim, chairman, GCDA.

Experts point out that there are several gains to be made from such regional planning structures that unify neighbouring clusters and address their infrastructure woes but not all are in agreement.

“It should be either shut down or should be brought under the Kochi municipal corporation. There is no reason why it should continue as a white elephant,” feels D Dhanuraj, chairman, centre for public policy research.

A key strength of the authority is its assets — the shopping complex in prime waterfront Marine Drive, two stadiums in the name of Jawaharlal Nehru and B R Ambedkar and huge areas of land at Manappat Parambu in Kaloor and Mundamveli — with value running into thousands of crores. On the downside are the expenses it incurs every month on account of salary and pensions. GCDA no longer takes up any major development work but pays around Rs.1.5 crore as salaries and pensions every month to 1,700 employees and pensioners.

Dhanuraj is of the view that instead of creating new institutions, it would be in the city’s best interest to have it brought under corporation.

“What we actually need is a powerful municipal corporation. All other bodies should be under the local body. At the top there should be only one office — that of the mayor and the supervision of the council,” says Dhanuraj.

“In my opinion even bodies like KMRL should be under the direct control of the corporation,” he said.

GCDA has also faced allegations of unwanted appointments due to political considerations. In 2017-18, it appointed 10 office attendants directly. Ten other employees posted as draughtsman/surveyor/overseer grade 11 employees in the year. This is apart from nine clerks being appointed despite the absence of workload giving rise to allegations that it has become a white elephant.

This news report was published in The Times of India on December 29, 2020. Click here to read

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