Kerala CM Oommen Chandy’s latest initiative “Emerging Kerala” has invited both kudos and criticism. Mere slogans won’t do any good to the state, he said while discussing the international investors' meet to be inaugurated by PM Manmohan Singh in Kochi on September 12.
Even before it has started, “Emerging Kerala” is in the thick of controversies.
Controversies are nothing new to Kerala. We have to change. Mere slogans won’t do. We have missed many opportunities. We were the first to start an IT park in the country, but we’re nowhere near our neighbours in IT. Development with care is our agenda.
Critics say it is old wine in new bottle and will meet the fate of Global Investors’ Meet held during the tenure of AK Antony in 2002.
“Emerging Kerala” is not an investors’ meet. It is a forum for exchange of ideas. Delegates from 52 countries are attending it. We have identified ten core areas including hospitality, health, value addition of agricultural produce and coastal area transport. The projects which don’t require complicated procedures will be cleared in 90 days. We will not give away a single cent (one acre is 100 cents) of land while clearing projects.
Does paucity of land and dense population create problems?
It is true we can’t afford big manufacturing industries. Density of population is the highest here. It doesn’t mean we have to sit idle. We need investment. Around 90% of our revenue is used for salaries, pensions and debt servicing. This time, we have done homework with help of our mentor Sam Pitroda.
Is the PM also attending the state cabinet meeting in Kochi with his 10 central ministers?
We are holding the state cabinet for three consecutive days (September 12-14) to review the meet progress. The PM will attend the cabinet meet on the first day.
What will be the biggest outcome of the event?
We hope the state will become a sought after destination for investment. Our aim is to develop infrastructure. With good infra and congenial atmosphere, investment will come automatically. Money is no problem. Thousands of NRIs are ready to invest. And my government will do the facilitator’s role very well.