THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Seeking strong safeguards for the struggling 10 lakh plus natural rubber growers in the state and focusing on the discrimination towards Kerala, the Kerala Congress(M) has demanded that the Centre come up with a special package similar to what was declared for the crisis-hit cotton cultivators in Gujarat and Maharashtra along with imposing a total ban on imports of all grades of rubber into the country.
Inaugurating a day-long fast of MPs, MLAs and party steering committee members in front of the Raj Bhavan to highlight the woes of rubber growers against the backdrop of the declining prices, chairman and former minister K M Mani said that if the price fall continued, since it had already come down to a rock bottom of Rs 90/kg and below, rubber cultivation would become extinct in the state soon.
“The Centre has implemented a Rs 17,000-crore special package to save cotton farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The situation of rubber growers is no different and even worse, warranting an intervention of the Centre,” he said.
Mani said that Rs 300 crore had been earmarked in the last state budget as outlay for the price support scheme for marginal and medium rubber growers.
“The Centre should immediately sanction Rs 500 crore from the Price Stabilisation Fund to build the corpus, to continue the price support scheme for rubber growers,” he said.
It was pointed out that any country which was a party to the World Trade pact was entitled to impose curbs on imports prejudicial to the interests and domestic economy of the given nation.
Water Resources Minister and party working chairman P J Joseph, MPs Jose K Mani and Joy Abraham, Chief whip Thomas Unniyadan, MLAs T U Kuruvilla, Mons Joseph, Roshy Augustine and N Jayaraj, Francis George ex-MP, former MLAs Joseph M Puthuserry, Thomas Chazhikadan, Antony Raju, Mathew Stephen and others spoke.
short on specifics
➤ Special package for rubber growers on the lines of central assistance of `17,000 cr given to cotton farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra sought
➤ Total ban on imports of all grades of rubber a must or slap a higher import levy of 75 per cent
➤ Ten lakh plus rubber growers, rubber cultivation in the state will perish if price fall is not arrested