KOCHI: The Union Government should establish rubber parks across the country and encourage rubber-based industries under the Make in India initiative, said former Union Minister and Kerala Congress chairman P C Thomas on Friday. The move will save rubber farmers who are facing survival blues owing to low rubber prices and high labour costs, Thomas told reporters at the Ernakulam Press Club.
“Around 4,000 products can be manufactured from natural rubber. If the Centre establishes 100 rubber parks across India it will save rubber farmers and create more employment,” said Thomas.
“Rubber prices have plummeted to `100 per kg. With the slump in international market, there is little hope of an increase in prices. Kerala farmers produce top quality rubber but tyre manufacturers have switched to cheap crumb rubber, pushing farmers into further crisis. Now, the Rubber Board is advising farmers to produce crumb rubber. This will destroy the reputation of Kerala rubber,” he told reporters at the Ernakulam Press Club.
The Centre, the state government and the Rubber Board should initiate steps to help rubber farmers, he said. “I had submitted a memorandum to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking steps to save rubber farmers. Senior officers from the Ministry of Commerce and Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam will visit the Rubber Institute in Kottayam to discuss the issues,” he said.
The district committee of Kerala Congress will lay siege to the Kanayannur taluk office at 10.30 am on February 16 demanding the state government provide Kerala's share for the construction of the Sabari rail project.
“As per the agreement, the state government and Centre should equally share the expenses of the rail project. The Centre allocated `213 crore in 2017 and `240 crore for 2018. But the state government has refused to provide funds,” district president of the party Vinod Thampi told reporters. State vice-chairman Ahamed Thottathil and general secretary P J Babu accompanied him.