Special Correspondent

No plan to withdraw from health sector, says Minister

Investment in manufacturing sector drops Mineral processing project yet to be cleared by Centre KSIDC implements 81 projects

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Under the ADB-aided Sustainable Urban Development Project, which is expected to come into effect in 2006-'07, civic bodies will be free to fix water-meters on public taps so that water tariff can be levied, Local Administration Minister K. Kutty Ahmed Kutty informed the Assembly on Thursday in reply to members' questions.

The Minister said the launching of the health insurance scheme for the poor did not mean that the Government was planning to withdraw from the health sector. The scheme was aimed at helping the poor when medical treatment costs were going up.

He said instructions had been issued to include all eligible families and not merely those who were Kudumbasree members. As many as 899 local self-government bodies, including left-led panchayats, had come forward to join the scheme. The last date for applying had been extended.

Education Minister E. T. Mohammed Basheer, who was officiating for the Industries Minister, said investment in the manufacturing sector was declining in the State. But in services and software sectors, it was increasing. Central sector investment in the State was below the national average, being only 2.77 per cent in 2003.

Central Government clearance had not yet been received for the Rs.1,850-crore mineral processing project at Kayamkulam, he said. The Rs.7,000-crore foreign-aided petrochemical project could not be implemented in Kasaragod. So the Government had approached the Gas Authority of India and in the light of its studies, it had been decided to set it up at Kochi. An allied industries project would instead come up at Kasaragod.

The Minister said there was a lot of scope for developing small-scale industries in Kerala, especially in the apparel and food processing sectors. Serious efforts were on to diversify job centres. The Government was ready for talks to arrive at a political consensus for improving investor-friendliness.

Since the UDF Government took over, the Kerala State Industries Development Corporation (KSIDC) had implemented 81 projects with a total investment of Rs.370 crores, employing 5,370 persons. Till December-end, 38 projects with an investment of Rs.639 crores and a potential to employ 3,081 persons, were in the process of implementation.

Law Minister K. M. Mani stated that a unique law structure (sui generic system) was being considered to protect the traditional knowledge unique to Kerala.