Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pathetic...






I really don't fell like a proud Indian or rather a proud Keralite today. This is mainly because I saw a certain news segment in the Malayalam news channels today morning. Well every news article does not bring me to tears, but this one did and for a change, I felt sympathetic, furious, helpless and what not.

Now to come to the issue - Kochi (In Kerala) the metropolitan city is undergoing a lot of changes and lots of development projects are coming up. Specially worth mentioning is the Vallarpadam project and Land has to be acquired for the proposed highway connectivity to the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal To do this they will be taking up land and evicting a lot of people from their homes. (Well ya I do know that to do such kind of good projects lots of modernizations are needed but this is too much...)

Today's news segment showed the police evicting a lot of people from their homes. The news showed the police rudely hitting anyone who protested and it also showed them pushing all the ladies who were protesting and crying and also the men who protested. They were then locked up into a house by force and the houses were being demolished at full speed. It was a heartbreaking site to see all the old and young women, children and even men crying openly and calling out to them to stop. Well how can you expect these people to stand and watch when their home and everything they ever had are being demolished right before their eyes?

All those who agreed to sign an agreement about moving were given one week time and many men signed this only because they couldn’t watch their mother's, daughters, little children, wives etc being thrown out into the streets. I saw many men signing documents while they were openly crying and trying to come to terms with what was going on.

Many of the houses were demolished and for those ones that were given time, the electricity connection was cut. I do agree that land acquisition and all that kind of stuff is needed when projects like this come up (after all my parents also did lose land when the government decided they wanted the land for smart city and things like that). But the people who are being evicted (especially since they are very poor) has to be given alternative lands and facilities before they are openly thrown out onto the roads. Where will they go with their ailing parents and young daughters? Where will they live till they can find other means to support themselves? After all they are being thrown out from the land that they have been living in all their lives, which they were born into and that were passed on from their ancestors.

The government can't justify this activity as they are paying the people only the value of the land that was there 5 years back. That is such a pitiful amount as 5 years back these places didn't have much value in terms of money. I felt so furious watching all this, especially because the present government is caught up in one scandal after other relating to shady land deals and so on. They can justify a land worth 500 crores being sold for 90 crores, but they can't pay the money that these poor people deserve nor can they provide alternative means.

I wonder what these people will do. Where will they spend the coming nights? Where and how will they provide any safety to their family? I feel so helpless. What can we do to help these poor people? What can we make the government do?


Vallarpadam Container Transhipment Terminal:
Vallarpadam is a part of the existing Cochin port. The Cochin port became a major port under the Major Port Trust Act 1963 and now has crude handling facilities, containerization of cargo and electronic data interchange facilities, which have put Cochin in the front as far as port development in the country is concerned. The Cochin port has unique geographical advantages as it is near to international sea trade routes which connect Europe and the Gulf to South East Asia and the Far East.

Vallarpadam Container Terminal Project (VCTP) will be a unique project in infrastructure, especially to boost containerization in India. VCTP was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on February 16, 2005. While inaugurating VCTP, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, "The project would be a role model for private-public partnership, blending efficiently private sector managerial efficiency and marketing acumen with public sector capital and infrastructure planning."
VCTP will be India's first ever International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT). According to a CNBC report, this project will enable India to move into the top 20 maritime nations. A detailed study of VCTP was done by Frederic R Harris, the Dutch Consultants and the total establishment cost of VCTP has been estimated at Rs. 2,118 cr. Dubai Ports International (DPI) has emerged as the successful bidder for developing and operating the project on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis for 30 years by quoting the highest revenue share of 33.30% to the Port Trust and the project is expected to be completed by 2009. It is expected to be one of the largest single-operator trans-shipment terminals in India. More details are available at this link about Vallarpadam Project: http://www.projectsmonitor.com/detailnews.asp?newsid=15219



About Kochi(from Wikipedia):
Kochi formerly known as Cochin is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. The city is one of the principal seaports of the country and is located in the district of Ernakulam, about 220 kilometres (137 mi) north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. It has an estimated population of 600,000, with an extended metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the largest urban agglomeration and the second largest city in Kerala after the capital.
Since 1102 CE, Kochi was the seat of the Kingdom of Cochin, a princely state which traces its lineage to the Kulasekhara empire. Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century onwards. Ancient travellers and tradesmen referred to Kochi in their writings, variously alluding to it as Cocym, Cochym, Cochin, and Cochi. Occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India. It remained the capital of Portuguese India until 1530, when Goa became the capital. The city was later occupied by the Dutch, the Mysore and the British. Kochi was the first princely state to willingly join the Indian Union, when India gained independence in 1947.
Kochi experienced decades of economic stagnation from independence until 2003, when it entered a period of economic growth, leading to a spurt in the city's development. A growing centre of information technology, tourism and international trade, Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. Like other large cities in the developing world, Kochi continues to struggle with urbanisation problems such as traffic congestion and environmental degradation.

Successive waves of
migration over the course of several millennia have made Kochi a cultural melting pot. Despite the risk of overdevelopment, the city retains its distinct colonial heritage and a blend of tradition and modernity.

14 comments:

--xh-- said...

the necessery evils of progress. the way the govt handled the land aquicition was very bad. giving 1 weeks notice and land value f 5 yrs back - by a govtt who talks about the comrades and power of working class. they should be given altenate arrangements for housing, and should be compensated for the loss.

Enigma said...

@ Xh

ya this kind of treatment comming form a party and government that got into power through these poor people. Its unberable and was really heartbreaking to see how those poor people were treated, they way they were crying their hearts out seeing their only shelter and life being demolished.
How can they justify giving land value that was there 5yrs back? And the police was hiiting anyone and everyone who came to question the things that were going on.

Zee said...

it is pathetic :(

Enigma said...

@ zee

very true..feeling so helpless..

Ps said...

It is horrible.
Recently I'd been to Kochi ( a month back) and was really surprised to see how much it had changed since the time I used to be there.(college days)
But this progress--at what cost?
:(

Pointblank said...

kel..

how do u ALWAYS manage to leave comments immediately after mine. Timing, huh?

Keshi said...

sometimes govts r evil n selfish.

Keshi.

Enigma said...

@ps

kochi has changed a lot..i dont mind the changes and the modernisation..but at wat cost is this goin on..those families hav had that only....

Enigma said...

@pointblank...neets..heheh ya saw ur comments, wen i was staring to post mine in some blogs....timing is gr8..hehe

Enigma said...

@keshi
well most govts r evil and selfish..but this is comming from a govt who is identified with the poor and helpless..the party of the working community and so on....wat all they r doin now???its just too much...

Keshi said...

true.

Keshi.

Vik said...

Ah... Glad you put out this information in the open. I think it might be seeing the issue from one angle though forceful evacuation is not a best of things that could ever happen. Who knows if they really own the land? But then I read some comments and it seems like they are legitimate. I am not sure. Ours is a very wicked and famous democracy, which I am quite surprised about. You know...

Enigma said...

@vik

the land is indeeded owned by the people who were evicted and they hav been living there for generations...they were evicted without any alternate arrangements being made...and they were not given the land value that is currently there now...with that price they cant buy even one cent of land in cochin...thats how expensive land is there now...

Enigma said...

@vik

ya absolutely true..humm its scary to live in such enviornments too...coz wat security do we have for wat is owned by us...most people get a piece of land after toiling for yrs..one day if u lose it without any compensation wat will they do....