GCDA's budget: Mixed bag with few surprises
Feb 15, 2014
Source : The Times of India


KOCHI: Trust Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) to spring a surprise! After mooting 'novel' revenue-generating initiatives such as the Rs 85-crore marine tunnel aquarium last year, the agency is now eyeing the education sector.

The development authority, which presented the 2014-15 budget on Thursday, has in a major departure earmarked Rs 50 lakh to set up an school for town planning. The school will provide undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and is expected to fill the need for urban planners.

Along with tourism development projects, the new proposals focus on residential projects and shopping complexes with infrastructure presented through a few skywalks planned in Menaka and Panamapilly Nagar.

The budget expects a revenue increase of Rs 44.24 crore compared to the previous fiscal, with finance managers of GCDA capping the revenue at Rs 205.96 crore. The agency, meanwhile, has factored an expenditure of Rs 197.85 crore.

About GCDA exploring new avenues to generate revenue, chairman N Venugopal said, "We don't have qualified town planners and currently engineers are given the task. For setting up the school, we require sanctions from the state government and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The school will also need university affiliation."

To boost state government's waste treatment efforts, GCDA will join hands with the Southern Naval Command, Cochin Shipyard, Smart City, Infopark and the hotel and restaurant association to step up a new solid waste disposal system. "Land is available at Brahamapuram. The corporation has not been able to set up a new plant. So, we have come up with the new proposal," the chairman said. GCDA has kept aside Rs 50 lakh for the project.

Ignoring criticism over plans to house penguins at the proposed Rs 85-core marine tunnel aquarium, the development authority has earmarked Rs 25 lakh for the project. "We don't think there will be any serious objections. The project will be implemented after getting the required approvals," he said. The project will be implemented following the private-public-partnership (PPP) route.

The proposal to construct a skywalk linking shopping complexes at Marine Drive and Menaka was another novel idea in the budget. The Rs 2-crore project with escalators will help pedestrians cross the busy Shanmugham Road. GCDA has also proposed a Thangal Road walkway, linking Panampilly Nagar and Koyithara Park. The Rs 50-lakh project will provide another venue for those who want to go for jogging or an early morning walk. "Project to construct shopping complexes and residential units will shore up revenue for the development authority," he added.

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