Special Correspondent

Paloli's statement comes under fire

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The decision to accept the 221.20 million U.S. dollar loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project did not come about smoothly at the Left Democratic Front (LDF) State committee meeting here on Thursday.

The coalition partners, notably Communist Party of India (CPI) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), gave in only after registering in very strong terms their protest against the manner in which the loan agreement had been signed between the State Government and the ADB.

They took particular umbrage at the press release issued on the eve of the LDF panel meeting by Minister for Local Self-Government Paloli Mohammed Kutty justifying the decision to avail of the loan and pointed out several holes in the Minister's contentions.

RSP State secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan was scathing in his attack and pointed out that there was no change other than those that had been made by the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) Government in the agreement. He contended that further changes could have been effected in the agreement if the Government had shown sincerity to do so.

CPI State secretary Veliyam Bhargavan rounded off the discussion saying that the committee could endorse the agreement if it was first of all agreed that in future, no policy decision would be without discussion within the LDF.

Although Mr. Mohammed Kutty was present at the meeting, he was not given the opportunity to explain his case. Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac also attended the meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

Revival of toddy shops

The committee also endorsed the proposal for revival of toddy shops that had to be closed down as there were no takers to run them and to sell off toddy shops in groups of five and seven to persons and cooperatives who had been running them.

Briefing reporters after the LDF panel meeting, front convener Vaikom Viswan said toddy shops would be sold off to persons and groups who run them now. There would also be a keen effort to revive as many as the 1,610 toddy shops that was closed down. The Government would also insist on the shop owners maintaining hygiene in the toddy shops and tapping at least 50 coconut palms or other toddy-bearing palm varieties in its vicinity.

Mr. Viswan said the Government did not propose to rollback the ban on sale of arrack in the State.

It would use the amendments to the liquor laws to ensure that the 12 percentage proof that courts had permitted in the case of toddy being lowered to prevent use of intoxicating additives by those who run toddy shops.