47. UPGRADATION OF CALICUT TO B-2 CLASS CITY
House Rent Allowance (HRA) for central government employees is being paid based on the classification of the city as per population. City with population of 50 lakhs and above are classified as A Class with 30% HRA, 10 lakhs and above B class with 20% HRA and 5 lakhs and above as B-2 Class with 15% and less than 5 lakhs C class with 10% HRA.
Population of Calicut was only about 3,33,000 and hence C Class with 10% HRA. But cost of living very high. As Convener of Confederation of Central Government Employees and workers, held a meeting of all CG employees’ organisations and discussed. On the basis of discussion, a resolution was adopted demanding that the city be upgraded to B-2 Class, considering its historical importance, as capital of former Malabar District, large number of small towns depending on the city, place of publication of important dailies and mainly high cost of living.
Upgradation of city not only is beneficial to CG employees, but also to employees of state government, public sector, working journalists and some others. Increasing of HRA will benefit merchants since workers will make more purchases. Considering all these a meeting was called and a ‘B-2 Upgradation Committee’ was formed with representation from concerned organisations. Com.E.Kunhiraman Nair (KITA) was Chairman and me, Convener.
A detailed Memorandum was prepared and sent to central government. Many demonstrations and agitational programmes were organised with massive participation. Newspapers also gave wide publicity realising its potential on the growth of the city.
Dr. Mathew Kurien M.P., who was also Chairman of the Kerala P and T Co-ordinating Committee (NFPTE) and other M.P.s raised the issue with the government as also in Parliament. Along with him, met Deputy Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee ( later Finance Minister and President of India) at his office twice and presented out demand. Dr. Mathew Kurien arranged breakfast and tiffin at parliament canteen, where charges were very less, in fact, only nominal.
When Minister came to Ernakulam, met him along with Com.K.Chandrasekharan M.P. (later Kerala Minister) and pursued the demand. City cannot be upgraded till population reach 5 lakhs was the same reply from Minister.
It was during this period that President of India, Shri V.V.Giri,visited Calicut on 14th April 1973. Staying at Government Guest House at West Hill. A delegation of three including Coms.E.Kunhiraman Nair and Ahmed Koya went to submit a memorandum on city upgradation demand. There were many prominent personalities and political leaders waiting at Guest House to meet him. Surprisingly, delegation of Confederation of CG employees was called first. We entered his room and he asked us to sit. Asked ADC to bring tea. We submitted memorandum, presented our case. ‘I will hand over the Memorandum to Prime Minister, who is to take necessary action’ he said with a smile. When we were just leaving, he asked ADC to call photographer, take our photo along with him and give it to newspapers. Photo was taken with President in the centre. Published in dailies.
We never expected such love and camaraderie from a President of India. In fact, we were surprised. Then we remembered his close connection with the working class as leader of AITUC and then INTUC, also his high personal quality.
After few months, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Calicut on 27th October 1973. We met and submitted Memorandum on the issue and discussed. She told that the demand will be considered on merits.
The demand was raised in JCM National Council by Staff Side. The Official Side accepted the demand in the meeting dated 25th July 1979 and orders were issued accordingly upgrading Calicut as B-2 Class City.
Central, state government employees and many other sections benefitted monetarily from this city with very less than justified population got upgradation to next stage. It was a big success of the workers and their organisations.