New district plan hits a snag

T K Devasia
Filed on January 29, 2012

TRIVANDRUM A move by the Congress-led United Democratic Front government to form a new district by carving out parts of Ernakulam, Idukki and Kottayam districts has evoked strong protests from the ruling front.

Kerala Congress leader and Water Resources Minister, P J Joseph, has termed the move to divide Idukki district for forming the new district with Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district as its headquarters ill-advised especially at a time when Tamil Nadu is claiming parts of the hilly district.

Joseph said this will strengthen the demand made by Tamil Nadu. The neighbouring state made the demand for merger of major parts of Idukki with the state in the backdrop of a strong campaign in Kerala for decommissioning the Mullapperiyar dam, which supplies water to Tamil Nadu.

The state has staked the claim, pointing out the large Tamil population in the district. Joseph said that Tamil Nadu will strengthen its campaign if the district is divided to form a new district in Kerala.

“I am not against forming Muvattupuzha district, but dividing Idukki to pave way for the new district will be suicidal. I hope those demanding the new district will desist from the move”, he added.

Senior Congress leader and former minister T H Mustafa has opposed the very idea of forming another district. He termed the move foolish.

The demand for Muvattupuzha district is very old. People and their representatives in the region have been clamouring for the new district citing the geographical and cultural differences between Ernakulam and Muvattupuzha.

While Muvattupuzha is a highland area with agriculture and small scale industries as its primary economic base, Ernakulam is an industrial belt. Ernakulam also has some coastal regions with a thriving fisheries sector.

Those demanding the new district say the Muvattupuzha region was not getting the attention it needed from the district administration as it was preoccupied with the development needs of the urban areas, where several new industrial projects are coming up.

They want separate urban parts of Ernakulam to form a single urban district and remaining parts as a rural district. This, they feel, will also be beneficial to Ernakulam as it will help the district administration to concentrate more on urban development projects.

Revenue Minister Thiruvanchiyoor Radhakrishnan initiated the move for the new district as part of a larger plan to overhaul the taluks and villages by delimiting them on the basis of geography, population, and area.

He will be presenting this proposal in the UDF liaison committee meeting here on February 8. He is seeking appointment of commission to recommend measures in this to take the proposal forward.

Two commissions appointed in 2000 and 2004 had already recommended formation of the new district, but the government did not act on them as they led to more demands for new districts.

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