While Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reiterated that the state would not
lose land to the development projects envisioned in Emerging Kerala initiative,
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan said that though development was
inevitable, people and natural resources of the state could not be
They were both speaking at the environment convention organised by the Kerala
Paristhithi Aikyavedi here on Monday.
At the two-day meet, members of both the Left and Right political parties were
brought together along with the public to a single platform to discuss the
various environmental issues facing the state, including those having
far-reaching consequences such as filling of paddy fields and wetlands and the
regularisation of the same, land-use policy, protection of forests and the
utilisation of natural resources for various uses.
“The Chief Minister had said that he would go ahead with Emerging Kerala
projects come what may as if he was issuing a challenge.
If the projects are not transparent and aimed at exploiting natural resources
with profit motive, I would like to tell him that we are all awake and will
have no alternative but to take up the challenge,” said V S Achuthanandan, who
described Emerging Kerala more dangerous than the Global Investors Meet of 2003.
Congress MLA V T Balram said that declaring a blanket ban on all the Emerging
Kerala projects was not a right approach to an initiative that would bring
economic development to the state.
“Vested interests will always be present, whether the left or right is in power. The government has to be guided and supported in picking up the projects that will have the least impact on environment,” he said.
Former minister Benoy Viswom as well as K M Shaji of the Muslim League said that the environment was not an investor’s worry.
“The decisions are taken by these investors, who are the so-called
‘key-holders’ to development.
The basic question, as to who are the beneficiaries of these projects and whether they want it, is often forgotten,” said Benoy Viswom, who pointed out that it was often the landgrabbers who come in the guise of investors with a namesake project.
K M Shaji opined that most development projects in the state were being implemented without a long-term vision. “When shawarma caused food poisoning, you ban shawarma. When oil tanker toppled after hitting a median, you remove the median. Wouldn’t the same accident have happened if the tanker had hit a lorry? We are always working on such instant-management of situations,” he said.
Former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac called for a risk-benefit analysis and a social cost analysis before implementing the projects. He said that our dependency on roads for transport should come down and we should go in for transportation projects in collaboration with the Railways.