KERALA

CPI(M) leaders flay study on Alappuzha's growth

Party has been debating viability of micro-enterprises

A. Harikumar

ALAPPUZHA: A survey report that says the district is backward in development has come in for criticism from a section the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders.

The Thiruvananthapuram-based Institute for Monitoring Economic Growth, founded by Mira Sahib, a party sympathiser and former Director of Economics and Statistics Department, had conducted the study.

T.M. Thomas Isaac, party leader and Mararikkulam MLA, had also made similar observations about the backwardness of the district, and had suggested launch of micro-enterprises as a solution. The CPI(M) leaders criticising the institute's study findings assumes significance as there have been raging debates in the party on the viability of micro-industries to alleviate poverty. The development model introduced in Mararikkulam is mainly based on micro-industries.

District panchayat president and party leader R. Nazar said after assuming office that he did not believe that Alappuzha was the least developed district. He could not understand how the institute reached such a conclusion.

Municipal chairman P.P. Chitharanjan criticised the survey at a public function held recently, saying that Alappuzha was not among the least developed districts. The survey report should be ignored, he added.

The report says that Alappuzha had made the least progress among the districts in the State from 1991-92 to 2002-03. Mr. Sahib released the findings at a seminar organised by the T.V. Thomas Study Centre. The CPI leader S. Karunakara Kurup is the chairman of this centre.

According to the report, the growth registered by the primary sector, which includes agriculture and fisheries, was the least in the district and the development of the secondary sector, made up by the manufacturing and other sectors, was average.

The report says that the number of school dropouts in Alappuzha is high, and the growth in women's literacy rate is not encouraging. The men's literacy rate has come down marginally.

Mr. Sahib said that in the composite index on development prepared by his organisation based on socio-economic factors, Alappuzha was placed last.

Similar observations

Dr. Isaac had made similar observations about the backwardness of the district at a seminar organised by the district panchayat this year.

In a paper titled "Livelihood crisis in Alappuzha district and micro-enterprises for sustainable development," Dr. Isaac had said that the district was positioned 13th in the State when ranked on the basis of per capita income. According to the paper, based on the economic review of the Kerala State Planning Board, the district was on the verge of the worst form of an agrarian crisis. Agricultural production had declined by nearly nine per cent between 1999-2000 and 2003-04, it said.

Similarly, the paper said there had been a consistent decline in the growth rate of income in the manufacturing sector during the period. The share of this sector in the district income also had declined.

The paper pointed out that 52.5 per cent of the rural families in the district were living below the poverty line against the State average of 36.56 per cent. Coir-industry workers constituted the largest group among the poor. The gender impact of poverty was visible in the district, it added.

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