Dakshina Kannada, Mangalore especially, has strong links with Kerala. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was here to campaign for Congress candidates, took time off to speak with The Hindu on issues of interest for th e people here.
How do you see the prospect of Congress government in Karnataka and what impact will it have on interstate relations?
Chandy: This time the Congress will come to power in Karnataka. There is favourable trend (for Congress) among general public. The main reason is that they want a strong government. Kerala has been maintaining cordial relationship with neighbouring states including Karnataka. But if the Congress comes to power in Karnataka we can have better relations, no doubt.
Will it have impact on areas such as infrastructure development?
Yes. The Kerala government’s most important infrastructure programme is to have a high speed rail corridor between Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalapuram (Mangalore). For that, we want the support of the Karnataka government. The Karnataka government should come forward to invest in the rail corridor between Manjeshwar and Mangalapuram. If they are not willing, we will have to stop it at Kasaragod, which will not be a proper place to end the project. So the new government’s relevance as far as Kerala is concerned is important.
There is still the demand for unification of Kasaragod with Karnataka…
It is not such a serious issue there. The government is taking steps to protect the interest of the northern parts of the State. We are doing very well. Report of the Prabhakaran Committee appointed by the State government on development of Kasaragod district has been submitted. The vice chairman of State Planning Commission has been asked to examine everything. The committee has given definite proposals. We are in-principle agreement with the recommendations and we will implement it in the next five years.
How do you see the influence of Social Democratic Party of India, which is active in Kerala, in Costal Karnataka region where there are in the fray in 25 assembly constituencies? Your party candidates pursue SDPI as a threat to party’s vote base.
They (SDPI) have a cadre set-up and they are building it. There are committed workers in it. But they do not enjoy public support there. I see the same situation here. Muslim community still enjoys good confidence of the Congress party.
A port is proposed to come up in Manjeshwar. Will it be a competing with the New Mangalore Port?
It will never be competing with Mangalore port, which is big one. The port proposed in Manjeshwar is a small fishing harbour that will cater to needs of local fishermen. The State government has decided and given approval for the fishing harbour.
The Kerala government has decided to import sand (for construction activities) from other states. Will it not be detrimental to ecology of the states from where sand will be procured? Activists in Karnataka have expressed such apprehensions.
We will import sand only with the necessary permission of the respective State governments. If the neighbouring States like Karnataka are happy we will welcome.
How do you see the influence of Maoists?
There are areas bordering Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu that is Wayanad, Ooty- Kannur area and Mysore where presence of State staff is limited. Because of that reason some people are trying to infiltrate. There is threat from Maoists and we are expecting some people in these forests. We have some serious account (about Maoists). We are taking care.