Chief Minister meets Union Ministers in New Delhi
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday urged Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to consider clearing the Rs.220-crore Kochi-Coimbatore Industrial Corridor Project after conducting a feasibility study at the earliest.
The project could be cleared by the Centre on a fast track mode a la Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project, as the Tamil Nadu government too had given its nod and was keen on completing the project early, Mr. Chandy, who was in Delhi on a two-day visit, told Mr. Sharma.
The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) would implement the project. The proposal involved development of a string of industry support infrastructure along the National Highway between Kochi and Coimbatore.
Mr. Chandy sought Mr. Sharma's intervention to stabilise the price of Elaichi which had fallen to Rs.600 a quintal from Rs.1,500, badly affecting the growers. The import duty on rubber should be increased further as huge imports of the product affected the domestic market, particularly the rubber growers of Kerala, he told Mr. Sharma.
Mr. Chandy met Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi and sought early clearance for various pending projects. Mr. Trivedi agreed to visit Thiruvananthapuram on September 19 along with Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and senior officials to hold discussions with the State government regarding early completion of pending works and feasibility of undertaking new projects.
Mr. Chandy met Minister for Defence A.K. Antony and Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi and discussed steps to be taken by the Centre for the early release of three Malayali crew members of the ships that were hijacked by Somali sea pirates on the Indian ocean.
With Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Tribal Welfare Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo, Mr. Chandy took up the issue of extension of tribal welfare schemes being implemented at Attapady with the Japanese government assistance. He sough the extension of the scheme after its expiry on September 30 this year. He said similar schemes with Rs.1,042 crore assistance from Japan, the proposal for which had been given to the Centre, would be implemented in Wayanad district.
To a question, Mr. Chandy justified the appointment of industrialist and former CII president Tarun Das, who was allegedly caught in the controversial Nira Radia tape issue, as the State Planning Board member and said Mr. Das had held similar posts in the West Bengal government and Haldia port trust too.
There was nothing wrong in former Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P.J. Thomas calling on him twice in Delhi. In fact, Mr. Thomas was appointed as Chief Secretary by the then LDF government, he reminded. However, he refused to answer when asked whether they discussed about the palmolein import case.
Mr. Thomas resigned as CVC following the controversy relating to his alleged involvement in the palmolein import scam.
It may be recalled that Mr. Chandy relieved himself from handling the vigilance portfolio after the Kerala High Court ordered an inquiry against him in the case recently.
Asked whether the government approved the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple trust's decision to seek Devaprasanam (a religious custom to seek decision of God) to open some vaults of the temple and file an affidavit in this regard in the Supreme Court, the Chief Minister said the government would give its opinion if the apex court had asked for it.