KERALA

Take over Industries and Labour, AITUC tells Chandy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 6. The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, should take over the Industries and Labour Departments whose functioning has come to a standstill, the AITUC State general secretary, C. Divakaran, has said.

Mr. Divakaran told presspersons here today that 44 public sector undertakings in the State have been either closed or stopped functioning during the past three-and-a-half years and the employees have been rendered jobless.

As many as 30 cashew factories of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation have not been functioning for the past three years and 26,000 cashew workers are in dire straits. Sixteen plantations in Peerumedu have been closed and 20,000 labourers have been retrenched. As part of the new liquor policy 1,300 toddy shops have been closed, he said.

The State Government has not submitted any proposal to get Rs. 300 crores sanctioned by the Central Government for modernising the coir sector. The coir cooperative societies are facing a crisis. The handloom, beedi and tile industries are also facing similar problems. The Government's claim on growth in IT sector has been disproved by a World Bank survey, he said.

State's position

A survey, conducted involving 1,600 institutions in 12 States, says that Kerala was placed tenth in the country with regard to investment climate. An entrepreneur will have to wait for 103 days in the State for getting a power connection, while in Delhi he would get it in 27 days, Mr. Divakaran said.

Poor industrial growth and lack capital investment can be attributed to inadequate infrastructure facilities too. The survey has rejected the argument that labour unrest and trade unions were impeding industrial development.

Never before in the history of the State had the functioning of the two major departments come to a standstill. No action is being taken against the violation of labour laws. Of the 12 labour welfare boards, only two are functioning, he said.

Protest march

Mr. Divakaran demanded the Government convene a conference of trade union leaders to discuss the problems in the departments. The union has decided to take out a Raj Bhavan march in Thiruvananthapuram and Collectorate marches in the districts on December 16 to press for the demands. The CPI State secretary, Veliyam Bhargavan, would inaugurate the march here, Mr. Divakaran said.

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