Questioning Defence Minister A.K. Antony's claim that the Centre is going out of its way to assist Kerala and that farmer suicides in the State could be stemmed only because of Central intervention, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has demanded to know how several of the projects that need either Central clearance or support are hanging fire if what Mr. Antony says is true.

In a statement here on Saturday, Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that at least five long-pending major proposals that required Central support were still remaining on paper or were being pursued exclusively by the State government because of the Central government's negative attitude. He listed these as the Vizhinjam container transshipment project, the proposal for a rail wagon factory at Cherthala, the much-awaited coach factory at Palakkad, the Kochi Metro project and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) promised for the State.

On farmers' suicide

Mr. Achuthanandan said that on farmer suicides, the Central involvement was marginal. The State began witnessing farmer suicides when Mr. Antony was the Chief Minister from 2001 to 2005.

However, the stand taken by his government and his then Agriculture Minister K.R. Gowri was that nothing of the kind was happening in Kerala. The Centre had used the State government's report to that effect to deny benefits that were rightfully due to the farmers of Kerala.

On the contrary, what the LDF had done immediately on coming to power was to announce a debt waiver scheme, give Rs.50,000 as assistance to the families of each of the deceased and implement an interest-free loan scheme.

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