Minister for Finance and Kerala Congress (M) chairman K.M. Mani has sought more involvement of the Union government in efforts aimed at development of the State.
He was speaking after inaugurating the Golden Jubilee Maha Sammelan of the party at Thirunakkara Maidan here on Wednesday. The parent party was launched on October 9, 1964 at the same venue.
Mr. Mani said several projects intended for the State were awaiting clearance of the Union government.
He said a report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected the State to have growth rate of 3.75 per cent. This was below the previous estimate of 5.5 per cent. Mr. Mani said projects costing Rs. 15,000 lakh crore were held up by the Union government. Such investment and the subsequent employment opportunities generated were crucial to put the State on the fast-track to progress, he said. He also demanded that the Union government implement the 13th Finance Commission that “recommended that the debt of Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab be written off”.
The KC(M) leader said in spite of State government withdrawing its petition submitted in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of National Green Tribunal to implement the Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats, the party remained firm on its stance against implementing the recommendations entirely.
Mr. Mani admitted that there were positive recommendations in the report, but called for excluding those that could “adversely affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers in Idukki and Wayanad. Such recommendations were detrimental to the State’s progress.”
He announced a host of programmes proposed to be undertaken by the party during its golden jubilee. “The party will bear the expenses for the wedding of 50 girls hailing from financially disadvantaged sections. Of these, 25 girls will be from the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe category. Fifty farmers will be selected for awards in recognition of adoption of scientific methods in agriculture. The party will also conduct a mega farmers’ meet that will involve several experts in the field of agriculture to discuss various related issues, he said.
Minister for Water Resources and party working chairman P.J. Joseph, who presided over the function, called for the intervention of the Union government in addressing the fall in prices of agricultural crops, including rubber, coconut, pepper, and cardamom.
Government Chief Whip and party vice-chairman P.C. George criticised the Madhav Gadgil report and the decision of the National Green Tribunal. He said the party would serve the country as a corrective force in various fields.