Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said his government will not sell even an inch of public land to promote industrial development in the State.
Addressing a gathering at the Kerala Environment Convention organised by the Paristhithi Aikya Vedi here on Monday, he said there was no question of surrendering the State’s interests to attract investors. He said the proposals to be discussed at the Emerging Kerala summit would be considered for implementation only if these were found to be good for the State and after securing the necessary clearances.
“All the proposals will be thoroughly screened to ensure that the State’s interests are protected. Public land will be leased out to investors, but the government will retain the ownership rights. For private land, the government will have a package to compensate the owners with the market price.”
He said all the proposals to be presented at the summit had been posted on the government website. “Anybody can scrutinise and point out projects with an environmental impact. The government is open to discussion.”
He said the Emerging Kerala summit would discuss proposals to set up industries manufacturing value-added agricultural products such as packaged pineapple juice and tender coconut water. “The agriculture sector holds the key to Kerala’s development. There is a need to revive the sector by improving productivity and promoting value addition and organic farming.”
Mr. Chandy said the government was working out the details of implementing the amendment permitting estates to convert five per cent of their land for other purposes. Pointing out that the move was aimed at ensuring the viability of plantations and protecting the interests of workers, he said steps would be taken to ensure protection of the environment. He said the amendment was based on the model followed by States such as Assam and West Bengal.
The Chief Minister told the gathering that the serious crisis on the power front had prompted the government to consider the Athirappilly project. “We took it up only after exhausting all other options. The thermal power plant project at Cheemeni had to be dropped because of concerns over atmospheric pollution and the Odhisa government backed out of our proposal to set up a coal-fired power plant in that State. That forced us to take up Athirappilly as a green energy alternative.”