Six members of the Assembly, heralding green politics in the State, have urged the government to ensure sustainability of the projects being considered under “Emerging Kerala” initiative.

In a blog post published on Sunday on their blog, Congress members T. N. Pratapan, V. D. Satheesan, V. T. Balram and Hibi Eden and Muslim League member K. M. Shaji and SJD member M. V. Sreeyams Kumar said that while they supported the initiative, certain precautions ought to be taken in approving the projects in view of the geographical peculiarities and high density of population in Kerala.

“The government should ensure that when new investment flows in, no harm is done to Kerala’s biodiversity, environment and priceless natural wealth. All new projects and investments must adhere to this principle of sustainable growth.”

They demanded that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) should be made a pre-requisite for the projects and qualified agencies such as the Indian Institute of Science should be empanelled to carry out the EIA. It should be noted here that not all types of industry can be brought to Kerala.

They also urged that the public land, whether it is revenue land or forest land, should not be handed over to private investors. The control and the ownership of the land should be with the government. “Land Reforms Act, Forest (Conservation) Act and all laws and regulations aimed at the welfare of the indigenous communities and primitive tribes should be followed in letter and spirit. No dilution of these laws should be permitted.

“Land is a precious commodity in Kerala. And the availability of land is also limited. We must ensure that all land transactions for Emerging Kerala’s projects are transparent and lawful. All land related matters must follow the laws of the land and strict regulatory measures should be incorporated in the basic project plan itself. If land is being given in lease, very strict lease agreements must be in place.”

They suggested that the lease amount should be in proportion with the market value of the said land and it should be renewed annually. The agreement should also ensure that the land is not being used for any purpose other than the original project. While mega projects are being cleared, all central and State laws and regulatory measures should be considered.

They said that the “Emerging Kerala” was a very positive attempt to bring in projects aimed at the State’s total development and economic growth. “We consider it important that Kerala becomes an investment-friendly State. The government’s efforts towards this goal should be appreciated and supported. At the same time when we try for new investments and business initiatives, it is imperative that certain precautions are taken; certain checks and balances are in place.”

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