The Chandranagar Co-operative House Building Society LTD. No. F. 1624
BIRTH OF A NEW STAR IN THE HORIZON OF CO-OPERATIVE LIVING (Late M.C. Meneon (Founder President)
In 1955 when i was the Municipal Chairman of palghat, a Municipality of the then Malabar District of Madras State, I was aware of the acute housing problems of the town, I knew Co-operative Housing Building Societies were formed and functioned and flourished well not only in Madras Bity, but also in the neighbouring districts of Malabar. But there was none in Malabar. When I visited Madras City in early 1955, i met Sri Govindan Nair, the then Director of Town planning; and had elaborate discussions with him about forming a Co-operative House Building Society in Palghat, He gave me the guidelines and instructions to prepare a scheme. It is my duty to record here the services rendered by Sri Govindan Nair, with deep gratitude, for they formed the base for the pioneer Housing Co-operative Society in the State of Kerala, the formation of which was on the anvil.
Following my discussions with the then Deputy Registrar of Co-operatives, the Collector of Malabar, I convened an informal meeting of few of my friends, discussed, and all of them agreed with my views and thus a nucleus was formed by collecting Rs.500/- each from a few persons as share capital for the Chandranagar House Building Co-operative Society. My belief that it was not lack of interest or faith on the part of people of Malabar., that prevented forming a housing society on co-operative lines, was confirmed. The society was registered by the end of 1955.
I had strong views about the location of Housing Colony, the down area was already congested and the new colony should be in a healthy locality; the paddy fields within the municipality should be left alone to remain as the lungs of the town area not to speaak of the need to preserve the food yielding lands as such. With these in mind, we pitched upon an area just on the outskirts of the palghat Town on Coimbatore Road.
A site extending to 8 actes initially, and then another four, was purchased from Sri. K.M.M. Karim Sahib of Koduvayur at a value of Rs. 1500/- an acre. I should say he volunteered to help rather than sell. It is his handling over his mangoe grove to the society at this minimal price which saw the colony coming up, so quickly in Palghat.
With the help of the Director of Town planning, Madras, the layout plan and type design were prepared "free of cost" and plots were allotted to members. No doubt, initially people were hesitant to invest money in shares and plot value, due to their doubts about the success of the scheme as such, Sri.M. Appukuttan Nair, Mrs. Ammu Amma, Sri. M. A. Muthu Rowther etc., the sponsors, left no stones unturned to get 40 members for the 40 plots available.
On a request by Sri. A. T. Alfred, the then Depputy Registrar of Co-operatives, the services of Sri A.K.K. Nambiar of the Department was spared to word as the Secretary of the Society. Sri Nambiar had sufficietnt experience in implementing Housing Schemes. He took charge and things started moving briskly and 10 loan applications were prepared and sent to Madras for sanction. At my request, the plans were approved and a token sum of Rs. 25,000/- was granted as loan in February 1956, even though the Kerala State was to be formed in a couple of months.
On an occasion like this, when we are celebrating the silver jubilee, I cannot help recording a strange anecdote. With the formation of Kerala Government, these loan applications were transferred by Madras State to the State of Kerala, with an allotment of Rs. 25000/- being the share of Malabar under Co-operative Housing Loans. After studying these papers, the Kerala Government returned these applications to the Society informing the office bearers of the society, who were the nominees of the Madras Government, that no such scheme was prevalent in the erstwhile Travancore-Coching State and as such the housing scheme could not be approved. You can imagine the consternation, but it was a challenge to the promoters and the members of the society were to be helped and saved from their disappointment and despondency. For two years, every senior officer of the Government of Kerala was met by me. The Governor; the cheif Secretary, Advisers to the Governor and a galaxy of other senior officers were repeatedly contacted, it is with profound gratitude that i mention here a feew of them and i wil be failing in my duty, if i dont record here that without the help and valuable services of them besides several others, the problem could not have been solved.
Sri. R. Ramunni Menon, I.C.S
Sri N. E. S. Raghavachari, I.C.S
Sri. P. S. Rao, I.C.S
Sri. G. Thomas, I.A.S
Sri. G. P. Gopalan Nir, I.A.S
Sri. K. Sankaranaryanan,
I.A.S Sri. T. Krishnan Nair,I.A.S
Sri. G. Jacob, I.A.S
Though it was a small beginning, when the scheme was sanctioned and constrution started Mr. N.N. Nair, who undertook the first contract on persuasion, helped considerable to achieve our goal, even at a loss. As the financial year was coming to a close the Society had to draw the amount of Rs. 25000/- allotted and the foundation work upto basement level of 10 buildings, formation of roads etc, were completed with this amount racing against time.
As there was no provision in the budget for 1958-59, for loans to Co-operative Housing in our infant state, I had to personally contact all the concerned Officers once agin and got Rs. 2,00,000/- trausferred to the Co-operative Housing Scheme from some other allotment" under the Board of Revenue. With this financial aid, the society could complete construction work of 20 houses in the firsst batch by 1959 and 20 more by the middle of 1961. My efforts to get a permanent quota of cement and steel for the society succeeded and the society could draw cement from the factory direct with great advantage. While the controlled rate of cement was Rs.7-50 per bag at the local stockist, the society was getting cement at Rs. 5-80 a bag. At my instance the Government sanctioned the free services of an Asst. Engineer of the PWD. for supervision of the work done by the contractors, the society meeting only his conveyance allowance of Rs. 100/- per month.
Before commencing construction work, tapping out sufficient water for the colony was taken up, A bore well was sunk to a depth of about 100 feet but sufficientwater could not be got, I, who was then on the District Development Council, took up the matter and with great efforts a rural water supply scheme known as Chandranagar Rural water supply scheme was sanctioned. A token allotment of Rs. 40,000/- was also made available to the P.H.E.D. and rendered his invaluable help. However, the supply was not sufficient and the P.H.E.D., was on the look-out to locate another source to give sufficient water to the colony. Meanwhile, the Palghat Town water supply scheme was nearing completion arid the colony also was subsequently included in this supply scheme. Immediately this was done, the P.H.E.D., removed the deep well pump and the rural water supply scheme was abandoned altogether.
In the original Town Water Supply Scheme, supply of water to Chandranagar was not envisaged, On account of this, supply of water has been and is still remaining a problem. However, in the coming months, with the augmentation scheme commissioned, I am sure the water problem will also be soved to everybodys satisfaction. With the facilities mentioned above, the people evoluti that this scheme is a viable one and started becoming members and thus it became the first successful Co-operative House Building Society in Kerala, and housing problems of palghat were soved to an extent. With its small beginnings, wer can be proud that our society was the pioneer in Kerala and the model for guidance for co-operative housing in the state and several Co-operative Housing Societies subsequently sprang up at Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Trichur, Calicut, Kottayam etc. House building under co-operative scheme was no longer novel in Kerala.