MLA says he did his best; Shanimol not convinced
KOCHI: Candidates of the ruling and the Opposition fronts in the Perumbavoor constituency for the coming Assembly elections have crossed swords over the issue of revival of Travancore Rayons Ltd.
They were participating in a face-to-face programme organised by the Ernakulam Press Club here on Saturday.
Saju Paul, MLA, who has been fielded again by the Left Democratic Front, said he had been doing his best to resolve the crisis in the industrial unit. The United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Shanimol Usman dismissed his claims.
Mr. Paul said that despite UDF convener P.P. Thankachan being patron of the Rayons Protection Committee, the State Government could not come out with a solution. An amount of Rs. 15 crores had been allotted to the company during the tenure of the former Left Front government. He alleged that the former Minister for Industries, during one of the meetings with the Rayons Protection Committee, had stated that extending financial aid to sick units was not the Government's policy.
As MLA, he had always strived to protect the interests of the 1,400-odd workers of the company. Agitations such as hartal and a march to the Assembly had been taken up to highlight the problem, but he had taken care not to politicise the issue. A cooperative attitude was necessary in the wake of allegations against the Left Front that it was indulging in anti-development activities. He had coordinated with those concerned in finding a solution. The one-time settlement of outstanding dues of the company would have to be thrashed out, and efforts were on to achieve the objective.
He reaffirmed that he would pursue the matter and resolve the crisis if re-elected.
The MLA listed development activities which, he said, had been initiated by him. These include the construction of the Palakkattuthazham bridge at a cost of Rs. 2 crores. A mini civil station, estimated at Rs. 2 crores, is under construction. Work on about 48 km of village roads have been taken up by the Public Works Department, according to him. He said a host of other projects were completed while several schemes were under way.
Ms. Usman alleged laxity on the part of the MLA in taking up the Rayons issue to the Assembly. In her opinion, agitations such as a fast should have been taken up to highlight the crisis. She hastened to add that Congress leaders, including Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, were trying to sort out the Rayons issue at the highest level. If elected, she would be ready to go to any extent to resolve the crisis, she added.
Taking a dig at the MLA's claims on development, she said the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus station in the constituency was downgraded to the assistant transport office level from the district transport office status. The Sabari rail project had reached nowhere. Despite Perumbavoor being a centre of wood trade, no initiatives had been taken to start wood-based industries. Road conditions were bad and scarcity of drinking water was being felt in many areas. She said the MLA had not been able to protect the Periyar from industrial pollution. She promised to chalk out development projects on the basis of a Master Plan.