Kerala has changed and it is an investment-friendly State now that welcomes investors. This is the message that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wants to send out to the world.
“We want to showcase the opportunities available here. We also want an open discussion and want to hear the other side on Kerala’s chances for development,” Mr. Chandy told The Hindu group of publications in an interview at Cliff House, his official residence, here on Thursday.
Exchange of ideas
He said that Emerging Kerala 2012 to be held next week was not an investment meet but a forum for exchange of ideas. Mr. Chandy is clear that infrastructure development is the key to job creation and that will be his main aim in the remainder of his term.
“We have neglected infrastructure development. We know that if infrastructure is there, investment will definitely come and job opportunities will open up. My main aim is to develop the infrastructure of the State with whatever possible method,” Mr. Chandy insisted.
He plans to focus on ten major areas to develop in his term as per the advice of Sam Pitroda, who is a mentor to the government. The first will be coastal transport, which will reduce road traffic and bring down transport costs by up to 40 per cent. Along with the Vallarpadam terminal and the upcoming Vizhinjam and Azhikkal projects, 14 minor ports will be developed. The second will be development of national waterways. The idea is to extend the Kollam-Kottappuram waterway to Kasaragod.
The third is to focus on development of the Ayurveda system, which is linked to tourism. These are apart from the focus on information technology and high-quality educational institutions.
Admitting to Kerala’s limitations in attracting manufacturing industries, Mr. Chandy said the government was thinking of a manufacturing corridor from Kochi to Palakkad. Dense population and scarce land have prevented serious growth of the manufacturing sector in the State.
Availability of labour is also an issue in the State, according to Mr. Chandy. Aspiration levels have increased along with education leading to a scarcity of unskilled workers.
“In my constituency, there is a powerloom and a spinning mill. They find it very difficult to get labour,” Mr. Chandy pointed out.
Asked if trade-unionism was a problem, Mr. Chandy was quick to point out that Kerala had the lowest figure in India for working days lost due to labour strikes. Militant unionism is an old story that is no longer true, according to him.
Asked about his vision for Kerala, the Chief Minister said: “My main aim is to develop the infrastructure of the State with whatever possible method. There is only one problem, that of acquisition of land. Money is not an issue. We are ready to take care of the financial aspect of landowners. We are ready to give a good financial package for them at market value.”