NATIONAL

Prime Minister's intervention sought

Better facilities: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeting the gathering after inaugurating the Rs.300-crore world-class terminal of the Thiruvananthapuram international airport at a function in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. — Photo: C. Ratheeshkumar

Better facilities: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeting the gathering after inaugurating the Rs.300-crore world-class terminal of the Thiruvananthapuram international airport at a function in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. — Photo: C. Ratheeshkumar  

Various organisations submit memorandum seeking support for development projects

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's immediate intervention has been sought for the development of the National Highway bypass from Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari, Vizhinjam International Transshipment Container Terminal, Kochuveli railway terminal, extension of STPI tax benefits and revocation of the user development fee in Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

In a memorandum to the Prime Minister here on Friday, Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce, Trivandrum Management Association, Trivandrum Agenda Task Force, Trivandrum Development Front and APPEXA sought steps to declare the Vizhinjam International Container Transshipment Terminal as a national project and to restore the High Court bench in the State capital.

The 43 km NH bypass from Kazhakuttam to Tamil Nadu border has now become the lifeline of the capital which has the potential to become one of the busiest Information Technology, Trade and Tourism Corridor. This stretch has now become congested with the existing two lane traffic and is expected to be more congested in near future. The Union government should take up the widening of the NH bypass into a six-lane road with utmost priority considering the significance of the road which can lead to the regional development of the capital and the State. Service roads from Attingal to Vizhinjam, grade separators at major junctions at Kazhakuttom, Chakka, Eenchakkal, Thiruvallam, Kovalam, Mukkola, Vizhinjam Port Link Junction had also been proposed.

STPI tax benefits

The existing economic policy recommends revocation of the tax holidays for STPI (Software Technology Parks of India) units by March 2011. It is estimated that around 6000 STPI units across the country will be affected by this decision. Of them, the major units are in tier two destinations like Thiruvananthapuram, they have pointed out.

The IT Exports from Kerala over the last few years has shown tremendous growth and is estimated to touch Rs.3 billion in 2010-2011, the major share to be contributed by companies based in the capital and registered under STPI.

It has been pointed out that the extension of the STPI scheme to another three years will give enough time to complete the SEZ space thereby retaining the existing companies and also to attract new companies or change in policy to notify existing infrastructure in the public sector as Special Economic Zones.

On the Vizhinjam transshipment terminal, the organisations urged Dr. Singh to provide entire support and expedite the clearances to declare it as a national project. Indian Railways should construct the railway connectivity to Vizhinjam through Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd., they urged him. The development of Kochuveli satellite railway terminal should be expedited as it is close to Technopark (which currently employs 30,000 professionals), Technocity, Vizhinjam terminal, Industrial Units, Apparel Parks and Film & Video Parks, VSSC, AIR India's Aircraft Maintenance Base, proposed KSRTC Inter-State Long Distance Bus Terminal, international airport, tourist spots of Kovalam, Veli and Akkulam. The master plan prepared by the Railways keeping in mind the needs of the next two decades should be executed.

The organisations have demanded that the High Court Bench in the State capital should be restored.

It was pointed out in the memorandum to Dr. Singh that the State government is spending huge amount on travel of government officials to the High Court in Kochi as most of the government offices and departments are located in Thiruvananthapuram.

On the decision to levy Rs.575 as user development fee from international passengers flying out from here, the organisations has said that it is a large amount for the many ordinary passengers who travel especially to the Gulf countries for employment. The user development fee will drive away the passengers from adjoining districts to Kochi and Karipur airports.

The decision should be revoked and the fee should be abolished taking into account the overall development.

The organisations were represented by Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce president E.M. Najeeb and secretary S.N. Reghuchandran Nair, Trivandrum Agenda Task Force president V.K. Mathews, Trivandrum Development Front president Ram Kumar and APPEXA vice-president Abraham Thomas Joji.

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