Delivering the keynote address at the working committee meet of the Indian National Electricity Workers’ Federation (INEWF) that began here on Tuesday, Mr. Chennithala said the severe shortage of power called for urgent steps to increase the production.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala has called for a moderate line on environmental concerns versus energy production in the State and elsewhere.

Delivering the keynote address at the working committee meet of the Indian National Electricity Workers’ Federation (INEWF) that began here on Tuesday, Mr. Chennithala said the severe shortage of power called for urgent steps to increase the production.

However, wherever new initiatives were thought of, starting from the coal-based Cheemeni project in Kerala to the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu or even in Arunachal Pradesh, environmental concerns had stood in the path of any progress.

Therefore, it was necessary to take a moderate line on environmental concerns, and go ahead with such essential projects while ensuring minimum environmental impact and also by ignoring “environmental fundamentalists,” he said.

Resources aplenty

In Kerala, the KPCC president said, there were 46 rivers, but still the State had to resort to power-cuts and load-shedding. Coal was abundantly available, but there was no technology to utilise it and even if there were any efforts made, environmentalists had cried hoarse.

Mr. Chennithala, who came down heavily on U.S. President Barack Obama’s statements on the country’s economy asking “what right Mr. Obama had to criticise India” and asking him to “bother only about America and not India,” said foreign direct investment (FDI) would not at any cost be allowed in retail.

At the same time, FDI was essential in sectors like power, roads, ports and for other infrastructural aspects.

Power company

Calling for a new outlook on the power sector, Mr. Chennithala also said the State would take into consideration the INEWF’s opposition to the move to make the KSEB a company. “Since you say no, there will be no company,” he said.

Wage board

Earlier, INEWF president G. Sanjeeva Reddy called for the setting up of a wage board for electricity employees, for uniformity in pay scales across the country and a pension scheme for all workers, including contract workers. The INEWF was also pressing for a minimum wage of Rs.10,000 for all workers who were now being paid paltry amounts, Mr. Reddy said, adding that an action committee bringing together all trade unions in the sector and to fight for these demands would be constituted soon.

INEWF general secretary M.S. Rawther, secretary general Kuldip Kumar, INTUC national vice-president Ashok Singh and others also spoke.