The CPI(M) led LDF opposition today staged a walkout from the Kerala assembly accusing the Congress-led UDF Government of having failed in tackling the unprecedented price rise which caused severe hardship to all sections of people.
Countering the opposition charge, chief minister Oommen Chandy said though the price rise was a reality, the state government had taken effective steps to lessen its impact on people, especially in the case of their staple food grain rice.
The chief minister said government had put in force a "three-layer" system to maintain supply rice at subsidised rates as a result of which most of the families could take from 25 to 65 kg of rice a week at prices much lower than those in the open market.
"We admit that price rise is a problem. But we have been doing the best we could. We are also open to any positive suggestions from the opposition. But the contention that the government has been ignoring the issue is not correct,"he said
Leading his colleagues out of the house, opposition leader VS Achuthanandan said Chandy's assertions had nothing to do with the harsh reality.
Seeking an adjournment on the issue, Thilothaman (CPI) reeled out a long list of prices of essential commodities which he said had "soared like rocket" over the years.
Earlier during question hour, opposition members rose in protest and shouted slogans demanding that the government must withdraw its decision to float a company for supply of drinking water.
Raising the issue, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (CPI-M) said this was a step in the direction of commercialising drinking water supply and render the public sector Kerala Water Authority redundant in due course. If this happened, common people would have to pay a heavy price for water, he said.
Responding to the charge, water resources minister PJ Joseph said the proposed company with government stake in it was intended to curb the flourishing private water bottling business in the state.
The new company would be barred from drawing water from the sources of Kerala Water Authority.