Our newly elected Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) have completed their one month of governance. There are 14 MLAs in Ernakulam district. People often claim that the media rarely showcases the voices of the elected representatives. Through this article, we have tried to do exactly that. We wanted to give them a chance to inform the public about how they plan to develop their constituencies. This is why it is surprising that many of them evaded our calls, some of them wanted a few days to think about their development plans and few even stopped responding. Among the MLAs who didn’t respond to us are Anwar Sadath (Aluva), V.K. Ibrahim Kunju (Kalamassery), V.D. Satheeshan (Paravur), S. Sarma (Vypeen), K.J. Maxy (Kochi), M. Swaraj (Thrippunithura), Hibi Eden (Ernakulam), and Anoop Jacob (Piravom).
Here are the 6 MLAs who chose to share their views.
V.P. Sajeendran – Kunnathunadu (Indian National Congress)
V.P. Sajeendran is an executive member of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). He is also a member of All India Congress Committee (AICC). Mr. Sajeendran was first elected from Kunnathunadu in the Assembly Elections in 2011. In 2016, he defeated Adv. Shiji Shivaji of Communist Party of India CPI (M).
“Kunnathunadu constituency is very close to Kochi. The headquarters of the smart city is here. Importance will be given to basic facilities. When it comes to the smart city, the United Democratic Front aimed to give job opportunities to more than one lakh people. If the current government could follow the same policy, the finishing point would be same. Another thing is the second phase of Kochi Metro. It is said to be from Palarivattom to Kakkanad. But the reaching point will be the areas of Kunnathunadu. The work has to start as soon as possible. Only then can we complete it in three years. A project worth Rs. 24,500 crore, at the Cochin Refinery, would be completed in the next four months. After its completion, the by-product of that project would be used to produce electricity. The Fertilisers And Chemicals Travancore Limited has been requested for land for the same. If all these become a reality, the face of Kunnathunadu will change definitely.
Eldho Abraham – Muvattupuzha (Communist Party of India)
Eldho Abraham, the symbol of youth from Muvattupuzha constituency, upstaged his senior counterpart Joseph Vazhakkan in the Assembly Elections. Mr. Eldho, who hails from Muvattupuzha, has worked along with All-India Students Federation and All-India Youth Federation. Mr. Eldho was also elected as a member from Payipra Panchayath. The young MLA sees this as an opportunity to guide the people of Muvattupuzha towards development.
“In development-related matters of Muvattupuzha, one of the main aims is to put pressure on the Angamaly-Sabari route. The main issue connected with this constituency is the scarcity drinking water. There are areas where the pipelines are not working properly and in some other areas new pipelines have to put up. I want to complete this as soon as possible,” he said.
The MLA has clear plans in the sector of road maintenance also.
“Muvattupuzha town development is another goal that has to be achieved. For that, bypass roads should be made. The increasing traffic jams can be solved by building such roads,” Mr. Eldho added.
In the agriculture sector, Muvattupuzha is an area where pineapple farmers are in abundance. The constituency has an agro processing company. But it is in debt now. Special priority would be given for the upliftment of that company. There is also a plan for an Agro Park.
The travel from Muvattupuzha to Kakkanad is difficult for passengers. In order to find a solution, there are plans to construct a four-lane road the same route. Efforts are on to include it in the coming budget as well said the MLA. In the health sector also, Mr. Eldho has clear plans.
“Muvattupuzha General Hospital is considered as the second best general hospital in the district. But still the hospital lacks some basic facilities. I want to change the health institutions into model hospitals. In the education sector also we could implement the same plan. With the help of government the current government schools can be updated to model schools”.
Roji M. John – Angamaly (Indian National Congress)
If we consider his age, Roji M. John may seem very young. But he is backed by huge political experience on his side. Right from his college days in Sacred Hearts College, Kochi, Mr. Roji was active in politics. He also is the President of National Students Union of India (NSUI). Mr. Roji says, “For Angamaly constituency, the development plans include the Angamaly bypass, Kalady bypass, and a new bridge in Kalady. These are important things that are in consideration right now. The Mannuthy to Edapally road has been made a four-lane one. But Angamaly does not have a single over-bridge. Angamaly is a city where Mahatma Gandhi Road (MG Road) and National Highway meet. So, the problem of traffic is very high at Angamaly. Kalady is the birth place of Adi Sankara. Malayattoor pilgrimage centre also comes under this constituency. This is why the bypass has been a desire of the people since a long time.”
Mr. Roji added that, “In some areas of Angamaly, the dearth of drinking water is also an issue. I plan to find a solution to it. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation complex in Angamaly should be made available to commercial purposes. Right now the complex is not being used.”
Antony John – Kothamangalam – Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Antony John, the young comrade from Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), defeated Shev T.U. Kuruvilla (Kerala Congress – M) by a huge margin in the Assembly Elections. Mr. Antony, who is also the Communist Party of India (M) area committee member, was the DYFI block president before. This fresh face from Kothamangalam has many development plans for the constituency he represents.
“Kothamangalam is completely an agricultural area. The price of rubber is going down. Efforts will be made to solve this issue. Value added products would be made from rubber. Agricultural products would be given reasonable price. And there is a plan to open independent agricultural marketing centres in every panchayat, like the one now in Keerampara. There is also a plan to encourage organic farming. The problem of drinking water shortage also exists in the constituency. In order to find a solution, independent drinking water projects would be encouraged. The basic facilities of colonies will be upgraded. The Adivasi sector of Kothamangalam is one important area that is to be noticed. Around 5,000 Adivasis lives here. In the last 5 years they did not received any deed for the land. Efforts will be initiated to give deeds without conditions,” he said.
The MLA also has a clear idea to utilise the tourism potential in Kothamangalam.
“Thangalam-Kakkanad four-lane road would increase the tourism aspect of Munnar also. The hanging bridge at Boothathankettu is also a plan I have in mind. Also, boating from Boothathankettu to Neryamangalam will widely open the tourism side of Thattekad. There are no technical problems for the project. The only thing that we have to do is to build a quay. For the traffic issues Kothamangalam faces, the Thangalam-Kozhippilly Ring Road will be a great relief. The project which was started during the term of last Left Democratic Front (LDF) government hit a roadblock due to the land acquisition procedures. It is now being completed,” he said.
P.T. Thomas – Thrikkakara (Indian National Congress)
An outstanding parliamentarian from the state, P.T. Thomas represented Idukki Constituency in the Lok Sabha. The man with a strong will power remains one of the prominent figures in the state. Mr. Thomas was suddenly nominated for Thrikkakara constituency, when Benny Behanan opted to give away his candidature. The leader has a clear vison and is backed by a lot of experience.
The MLA has planned a lot of things for the development of the constituency. “For whatever plans an MLA has, the government’s full support is needed. If the government contradicts everything, success would not be there. MLAs cannot raise funds themselves. The previous government and Oommen Chandy have been instrumental towards the development of Ernakulam. Hope the current Chief Miniter Pinarayi Vjayan will also be the same”.
Mr. Thomas too feels the main issue the constituency faces is of the non-availability of drinking water. Water is only available once in four days. His main agenda is to solve this issue.
“As everyone knows the waste management plant in Brahmapuram is not yet completed. So, the completion of the same would be a great relief for the people of Ernakulam. With the help of the Cochin Corporation, talks are also on for a new plant. Despite being a big city, electricity distribution in Kochi is not yet modernised. Power failures are common. Underground cabling could be effective in dealing with this issue. Even new sub-stations should be constructed in the city,” he said.
Mr. Thomas also said that even though there is not much role for an MLA in the matters dealing with Kochi Metro, the push for the second phase including the route from Palraivattom to Infopark should be made. He added that the mobility hub, which connects water, rail and road transport, should be improvised. The canals should be upgraded to accommodate travel facilities. Currently, most of the canals have waste dumped in them.
The MLA further said, “There are government offices in the constituency without proper registers regarding property and land. The documents regarding private and government property should be maintained. I have given strict guidelines for the effective monitoring and protection of the same. The government schools in the city remains lamentable. The quality of the schools should be made better,” he said.
Mr. Thomas also said that the interference in the banks of the canal at the Edappally-Periyar should be disposed. He also pointed out a major reason for the flooding that Ernakulam witnesses during the rains. He said, “The National Highway Authority of India and Railways are equally responsible for the same. In a distance of 17.5 km, which stretches from Edappally to Aroor, there are around 25 underground pipelines. When the flow in the same gets disturbed, apparently water cannot go out and flooding takes place. The same is the case with the railways also.”
The MLA is also keen to stop social problems like drug use by holding campaigns and other awareness programmes. A campaign named ‘Clean Thrikkakara’ and providing other basic facilities including Thammanam to Pulleppadi seaport-airport road, as well as solutions to curb traffic in the constituency are the major considerations of the MLA.
Another important plan by Mr. Thomas is to seek the help of retired and experienced personalities who would be experts in their particular stream. He is trying to include every category of the public from his constituency for the goal of development.
Eldhose Kunnappilly- Perumbavoor (Indian National Congress)
Eldhose Kunnappilly, the young leader from Congress, was an unexpected winner from Perumbavoor constituency. The ‘Jisha Murder Case’ and the political brouhaha that followed played influenced the election in Perumbavoor. Mr. Eldhose was also the former District Panchayat President of Ernakulam. In light of the concerns of the ‘Jisha Murder Case’, Mr. Eldhose has a clear vision about his journey.
“The primary objective is to give houses for those who do not have one. The non-detail data shows that around 2,000 to 2,500 families do not have houses. After Jisha’s death, we came to know that she was living on wasteland, she did not have drinking water and not even a toilet. So, we decided that people should be given basic protection. We have designed a campaign ‘Ente Veedu Perumbavoor’, under which every family that does not have a house should be given the same. Another important aspect connected with Perumbavoor is that many people from other states live here. Their needs should be managed and at the same time their details should also be collected. A registry of people coming from other states would be made,” he said.
Other than these issues, Mr. Eldhose also raised concerns about the construction of a parallel bridge connecting Perumbavoor-Kalady-Angamaly. The Perumbavoor bypass is also a main agenda of the MLA. According to him, the health sector, education sector, and basic facilities should also be upgraded in a way that is useful for the public.
Pictures credit: Mr. Sajeendran- keralaassembly.com, Mr. Thomas – keralaassembly.com, Mr. Roji – Twitter.com, Mr. Eldho- ldfkerala.org, Mr. Antony – keralaassembly.com, and Mr. Eldhose – eldhosekunnippilly.in