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Panel overseeing Moolampilly rehabilitation package meets after five years

INDPanel overseeing Moolampilly rehabilitation package meets after five years

A meeting of the monitoring committee, chaired by the District Collector to oversee the implementation of the Moolampilly rehabilitation package, decided in principle to issue eviction cards to those displaced for road and rail connectivity to the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT).

The meeting chaired by District Collector N.S.K. Umesh was the first meeting of the monitoring committee to be held after a gap of five years. The committee was originally supposed to meet every month.

Members of the Moolampilly Coordination Committee representing the evicted families told the meeting that the monitoring committee meeting held in 2018 had agreed to issue the cards. “We had submitted all data, and the list of beneficiaries was also approved by the district administration,” said Francis Kalathungal, general convener of the coordination committee, which had placed an exhaustive 18-point representation before the committee.

Regarding the government order dated March 19, 2008, which assures job to one eligible member from each evicted family, a representative from the Cochin Port Trust expressed ignorance about this guarantee and promised to report back after verification. Since the assurance was given by the State and Central governments, the Collector would forward a recommendation for a Minister-level meeting, and a copy of it would be handed over to the coordination committee, Mr. Kalathungal said.

The coordination committee informed the panel about the unsuitability of two rehabilitation plots, one at Thuthiyoor and another at Muttungal Road in Kakkanad and Vazhakkala respectively, as certified by the Public Works department (PWD). Though the plots were intended for 118 families in Thuthiyoor and 56 in Muttungal Road, so far, only five houses have been built, out of which two have developed cracks and slants. The PWD has declared them unfit for habitation.

“We were told that the plots were declared ready, in which case, we said, we were kept in the dark. Therefore, we requested the Collector to visit the plots, and he agreed. The visit is likely to take place next month,” said Mr. Kalathungal.

The Kerala High Court order stating that the rehabilitation plots should be fit for constructing two-storey buildings, failing which the evictees should receive a monthly rent allowance of ₹5,000, was also brought to the notice of the committee. Due to the considerable financial obligation involved, no immediate commitment was made. The meeting also discussed the issue of refunding 12% deducted as tax from the compensation amount, which violated the government’s assurance.

“We also demanded a specific time-frame for meeting all our demands, given that it has already been 16 years since the eviction. It was decided that a review meeting will be held within 45 days.” said Mr. Kalathungal.

As many as 316 families were evicted from seven villages for the ICTT project in 2008, initially without any rehabilitation package.

A 40-day protest by the evictees forced then State government to declare the package on March 19, 2008. However, the package was not implemented in the right spirit leaving the evictees to knock in futile at the doors of successive governments.

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