Six months into his second term as chief minister of Kerala, Ommen Chandy is trying to get centre’s attention and help in resolving what he described as “second generation challenges in health and education.”
Chandy and 10 cabinet colleagues are in the capital, meeting over two days, 11 union ministers including the PM to push for projects for the state.
“The first generation problems related to health and education have been resolved. Now, we are facing challenges thrown up by the success in these sectors. For instance, the success in health has meant life expectancy almost touching 80 — meaning more money for pensions, geriatric health care etc.
The success in education has meant Kerala is producing a multitude of educated but unskilled people. We have to tackle both these issues by rapid development,” the CM said.
Chandy — on a high after the Kerala HC rejected a plea to probe his role as finance minister in the two-decade old palmoline import case — said boosting the morale of the state bureaucracy is a priority for his administration.
“Vindictive vigilance actions have scared the bureaucracy from taking any decision at all. Causing losses to exchequer, nepotism and corruption are the only three situations that will lead to vigilance action. Officials trying to help the people in good faith will have protection,” he said.
Kerala’s vindictive partisan politics has often led to officials being targeted with change in government – a situation that led to former CVC P J Thomas remaining an accused without trial for two decades, finally ruining his reputation in the end. Jiji Thomson, another IAS officer, has moved the Kerala HC recently pleading to remove his name from the frozen case that has stalled his career.
Chandy said the huge number of petitions that he receives in his public hearings that started early this month is a sign of bureaucracy avoiding decisions, playing too safe.
An elevated rail high speed rail corridor to connect Thiruvanathapuram to Mangalore is a key project that the state is pushing for. The government is also planning mega projects in sanitation and drinking water – all on the lines of the Cochin International Airport Limited – one of the first PPP models in the country that is also making a profit.