‘Large number of people from central Travancore working abroad’
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien on Saturday made a strong pitch for the Aranmula airport project as it was crucial for central Tranvancore, which had the maximum number of expatriates spread all over the world.
Addressing a meet-the-press programme organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club, Prof. Kurien said a large number of people from central Tranvancore were working abroad and an airport would be beneficial for them.
He dismissed the environmental issues raised against the airport project stating that the paddy fields earmarked for it had remained uncultivated for some time now.
“Those expressing concern about the environmental issues related to the airport are the ones who migrated to cities such as Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi by selling off their property,” he said.
The airport project had got the environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, which is known for its stern stand on such issues. He said the project would bring more benefits and limited damage to the ecology.
With regard to the washout of the monsoon session of Parliament, Prof. Kurien said Parliament was a place for debate and not slogan shouting. There could be difference of opinion among parties which should be sorted out through debates in Parliament. “If such debates cannot be held, then it can only be construed as the failure of our democratic functioning.”
He denied the charge that the government had tried to steamroll the Opposition as could be seen by the fact that 30 Bills were kept pending. Only those bills that were absolutely essential to enable smooth administration had been pushed through.
On the decision to permit 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, he said the government which had the majority to rule had every right to take a policy decision.
Parliament was the appropriate forum to debate such issues. With regard to a question on whether the legislature was losing importance, Prof. Kurien said the executive cannot be blamed if the law-making bodies were losing importance.
Legislators and parliamentarians should do their job. The government was accountable to Parliament.
On the controversy over the CAG reports, he said the CAG report was not the final verdict. The CAG reports would have to be discussed by the Public Accounts Committee and the decision of the committee was final.
It would be highly inappropriate to undermine the office of the CAG by alleging motives in his actions. But the methodology of his findings was subject to scrutiny and debate, he added.