Veteran Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who passed away on Tuesday morning in Bengaluru, was one of the popular political leaders in the State. He served as Chief Minister from 2011 to 2016, and from 2004 to 2006.

Chandy, who died of cancer at the age of 79, stood tall as a leader of the masses and was instrumental in implementing several infrastructure projects in the State, once thought impossible.

These included the Vizhinjam Container Transhipment Terminal project, Kochi Metro, Smart City, Kannur Airport, medical colleges, development of road bypasses and so on. His commitment and his visionary leadership left an indelible mark on Kerala’s development scenario.

Though the Vizhinjam project was started in 1995, its implementation was delayed by around 20 years for various reasons. When Oommen Chandy became the State Chief Minister in 2011, he got the project moving again with the Central Government support in 2015.

Kochi Metro Rail is another one in the list of successful projects, started during his tenure as Chief Minister in 2012 and was successfully completed with a trial run on January 2016. Though the Kannur Airport project had received clearance in 2008, there was no progress until Chandy intervened and facilitated commencement in 2014 with commercial service starting in 2018.

Development of road bypasses in Kerala is another example when Oommen Chandy’s government offered to bear 50 per cent of the construction cost. Kerala Headload Workers Welfare Scheme, Karunya Benevolent Scheme, self- financing colleges, state initiative on Disability were some of the other schemes taken up by him.

He achieved a rare distinction of contesting elections in the same constituency Puthuppally in Kottayam and completing five terms consecutively in the Assembly tasting victory in all, that too with an overwhelming majority. During his second term in office in 2011-16, he rolled out the Mass Contact Programme or Jana Sambarka Paripadi to connect directly with people and hear their grievances and ensure relief to them. The programme received the United Nations global award for Public Service award programme in 2013.

“It was the first time in India a welfare scheme for traders was implemented in Kerala, a long pending demand of the trading community. Oomen Chandy in his capacity both as Chief Minister and Finance Minister had taken several steps for the benefit of the traders’ fraternity and resolved all issues connected with the community”, said recalls S.S.Manoj, state president of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi.