By J.S. Bablu
KOZHIKODE, MARCH 21. Neglect towards a project dedicated to the memory of late V.K.Krishna Menon, who was the Defence Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet, has been termed a disgrace to this statesman.
The V.K.Krishna Menon Smrithi Vanam (Memorial Forest) project at Eravathukunnu here has been neglected by the Department of Forest and the Corporation authorities.
The Corporation's plan of turning this site of about 10 acres into a tourist centre, consisting of site-viewing gallery, cartoon park and a butterfly park, remains only on paper.
A part of the memorial forest would soon be leased to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).
It was in 1962 that the Corporation acquired about 32.47 acres of land at Eravathukunnu in order to build a housing colony for its employees. This plan was later shelved, as there was no road to this hilly area and also owing to the fact that the Corporation would have to spend a lot of money for construction. The site also lacked drinking water facilities.
The Corporation then gave 15 acres to Model ITI, five acres to the Kendriya Vidyalaya and 0.76 acres to Siva Temple Committee free of cost. The remaining land of about 9.77 acres was leased to the Forest Department. It had taken up afforestration activities under the Social Forestry Division and the then Forest Minister, K.P.Viswanathan, inaugurated the project in 1993.
However, lack of proper care by the Department had forced a section of local people under the banner of Smrithi Vanam Samrakshana Samithi to undertake the planting of 300 saplings on June 2, 2003.
The Corporation got back the possession of the 9.77 acres of forest as the Forest Department did not renew the lease contract. The Corporation has now decided to transfer about 4.13 acre from this land to the KWA for building a water tank in connection with the Greater Calicut Water Supply Scheme.
The Government had already given the sanction to transfer the land to the KWA. The approval for the transfer will be soon submitted to the Corporation Council.
Meanwhile, a plaque containing the carved picture of Krishnan Menon, which was erected at the place, was found missing recently.
A section of local people point out that the transfer of land to the KWA will further squeeze the land availability for the project envisaged by the Corporation. They point out that the vacant land between the Model ITI and the Kendriya Vidyalaya could be leased to the KWA for building the water tank.They feel that the Memorial should be left as such so that the Corporation project, running into lakhs of rupees, could be implemented. This could be a befitting tribute to Krishna Menon.
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