Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that environment protection and development have become integral to the functioning of the government and also part of the State.

The Chief Minister was speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday on the occasion of President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the House. A plaque declaring the Assembly complex going green was also unveiled on the occasion.

“At a period when lots of discussions on issues related to environment take place, this model initiative by the Kerala Legislative Assembly should be taken note of by the whole of Kerala,” he said referring to the green initiative.

“I congratulate the Speaker of the Assembly G. Karthikeyan for this initiative. We can only go forward by taking environment and development side-by-side.”

125-year history

Mr. Chandy noted that only the Karnataka and Kerala assemblies had a history of 125 years. It was on August 23, 1888, that the first meeting of the Travancore Council, which comprised just eight members, was held. “Even though the country at that time had about 600 princely States, from a historic perspective, the first rays of democracy fell on Travancore. It was also a historic moment when the Travancore Legislative Assembly in 1948 inducted 120 members based on adult franchise.”

He recalled that of the 1,500 odd laws passed by the Kerala Assembly, about 500 had become cornerstone laws. “Some among them that took birth in this House are the laws pertaining to land reforms, compulsory education to all, decentralisation of power, Lok Ayukta and that of headload workers and agriculture labourers,” he added.

He said that Kerala was a region that followed certain laws, traditions and observances 125 years ago that were quite impossible to imagine today. However, it had come out of all that and today the social, educational and health sectors of Kerala were on a par with that of European countries.

New challenges

He said that Kerala faced new challenges and it needed to enhance productivity and employment opportunities by improving infrastructure, ensuring more investments and by meaningful use of resources.

“We do not have an alternative other than these modes to sustain our achievements. By doing so, we can also encourage our youngsters to stay back and prevent them from migrating in search of jobs.”

Referring to conflicts in the Assembly, he said that the people had the ability to recognise the rights and wrongs in discussions. Governor H.R. Bhardwaj said that Kerala had contributed amply in building the nation. It had enacted path-breaking legislation. “Political awareness among people makes it a very distinguished State,” the Governor said.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said that developmental needs of Kerala continued to be neglected by the Centre. Kerala had failed to get a railway zone and coach factory. Neglect was also visible in respect of development of Vizhinjam port and Kochi metro rail. “The interests of all States should get sufficient attention as envisaged in the federal constitution.”

The Leader of the Opposition said that food safety still remained a mirage for the country. The food safety act remained to be enforced properly.

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