Staff Reporter

`Make local ventures micro-level enterprises'

KOCHI: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has said the legislators should redefine their roles as coordinators and facilitators for development projects in their constituencies in tune with the decentralisation of governance.

Speaking after inaugurating a development seminar in Palluruthy constituency here on Thursday, Mr. Isaac said the greatest asset of Palluruthy was that it was a suburb of the first evolving metropolitan city in the State. The region should gear up to cater to the demands of the metro, Dr. Isaac said. The constituency consisted of 15 divisions of Kochi Corporation and panchayats like Maradu, Kumbalam, Kumbalanghi and Chellanam.

He said moving from primary sectors to higher levels could generate job opportunities. Local ventures should be made micro-level enterprises. These should be properly marketed and made flexible so as to compete with the existing market, he said.

For example, Pokkali could be branded as the `ecologically most sustainable mode of agriculture'. That would fetch better prices for the farmers. Without conserving Pokkali cultivation, even shrimp export could be affected in near future, he said.

Changing times also demanded steps like land reform to be implemented along the coastal belt to arrest local resource depletion. It should be ensured that only those who actually go out to fish would be able to own fishing equipment, Dr. Isaac said.

It was a misconception that connectivity to the mainland would automatically bring in development.

It could also lead to backward flow of development as had happened in the tribal settlements of Attapadi. A deliberate and studied intervention was required to get maximum benefit out of development process, and this seminar was a step in that direction, he said.

In his presidential address, C.M. Dinesh Mani, MLA, said there was a long gap in the developmental process at Palluruthy. A development strategy taking into consideration the characteristics of the region should be evolved, he said. Many sectors like drinking water supply, traditional industries, transport, sanitation and coastal area maintenance needed urgent attention.

The region needed more infrastructure support like bridges connecting Thevara ferry-Kumbalam, Edakochi Kannangatt-Willingdon Island and Kundannoor-Nettoor, he said.

C.K. Manisankar, Deputy Mayor, Kochi Corporation; T.P. Antony, president, Vytilla block panchayat; Antony Sheelan, president, Palluruthy block panchayat; K.A. Devassy, president, Maradu panchayat; C.K. Padmanabhan, president, Kumbalam panchayat; John Pazheri, president, Kumbalanghi panchayat; K.D. Prasad, president, Chellanam panchayat; and Philip Augustine, managing director, Lakeshore Hospital, were present.

S. Sarma, Minister for Fisheries, attended one of the technical sessions that followed. Various experts presented papers on subjects like drinking water, sewage, water utilisation, fisheries, agriculture, coastal zone management, drainage, commerce and industrial zone, transport and transport development, civic planning, social welfare, tourism and public health.