Talks to end plantation crisis on June 30

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM JUNE 26. The Kerala Government would hold a meeting with plantation owners on Monday to evolve a solution to resume the functioning of the plantations in the State, the Labour Minister, Babu Divakaran, told the Assembly today.

Replying to questions on the floor of the House, the Minister said the Government had plans to hold meetings with plantation owners individually to end the impasse. The Government would consider the proposal to resume the functioning of plantations by forming cooperative societies with the participation of labourers. The State Government could not take over the plantations but the Centre could do it by invoking the Tea Act. The Union Commerce Ministry had taken the initiative for talks, he said.

Free ration had been given to the plantation workers for six weeks and it would continue. As many as 250 medical camps had been conducted for the plantation workers in the past three months. A mobile medical unit with 50 doctors would start functioning from Kottayam soon, he said.

Mr. Divakaran said the Government would consider the proposal to give Rs.1,000 per month to the employees of public sector undertakings who had lost their job due to closure of the units. The proposal was to give relief from a corpus formed with the contribution of the employees while they were in service, the Minister said referring to a similar scheme which existed in West Bengal.

The Government had not so far disbursed anything from the Rs. 201-crore fund formed last year under the self-employment scheme. The scheme was to provide loan and training to unemployed youth. In order to simplify the labour laws and rules, the Government was planning to form an expert committee to suggest amendments to the existing laws.

In a written reply, the Minister said a welfare fund was on the anvil for the employees of shops and commercial establishments. The draft Bill was ready, he said. Speed governors would be made compulsory for stage carriages and heavy vehicles from September 1, the Transport Minister, R. Balakrishna Pillai, said.

Speed governors had been installed in two long-distance KSRTC buses on an experimental basis and the results were encouraging.

There was no shortage of the equipment. The equipment costing Rs. 20,000, would increase fuel efficiency by 10 per cent, he claimed.

The Industries Minister, P. K. Kunhalikutty, in reply to a question, said that the Government had so far given Rs.138.59 crores as grant and loan to the Technopark here.

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