We support the Kerala Government’s initiative “Emerging Kerala”. It is a very positive attempt to bring in projects aimed at the state’s total development and economic growth. It is a matter of concern that, in the last three decades, Kerala could not achieve substantial growth in agricultural and industrial sectors. It is in this context that we consider it important that Kerala becomes an investment friendly state. The Government’s efforts towards this goal should be appreciated and supported. At the same time when we try for new investments and business initiatives, it is imperative that certain precautions are taken; certain checks and balances are in place.
It should be noted here that not all types of industry can be brought to Kerala. The state has certain geographical peculiarities, so also have a very high density of population. These primary facts should be taken into consideration while we select projects. The government should ensure that when new investment flows in, no harm is done to Kerala’s bio-diversity, environment and priceless natural wealth. All new projects and investments must adhere to this principle of sustainable growth.
Another important aspect to be considered is the status of land which will be used for new projects. Land Reforms Act, the 1980 Forest Act and all laws and regulations aimed at the welfare of the indigenous communities and primitive tribes should be followed in letter and spirit. No dilution of these laws should be permitted. Land is a precious commodity in Kerala. And the availability of land is also limited. We must ensure that all land transactions for Emerging Kerala’s projects are transparent and lawful. Public land, whether it be revenue land or forest land, should not be handed over to private investors. The control and the ownership of the land should be with the Government. All land related matters must follow the laws of the land and strict regulatory measures should be incorporated in the basic project plan itself. If land is being given in lease, very strict lease agreements must be in place. The lease amount should be in proportion with the market value of the said land and it should be renewed annually. The agreement should also ensure that the land is not being used for any other purpose other than the original project implementation.
While mega projects are being cleared, all central and state laws and regulatory measures should be considered. Environmental Impact Assessment should be made a pre-requisite and qualified agencies like the Indian Institute of Science should be empanelled to carry out the EIA.
Our aim should be sustainable development and inclusive growth. We hope that Emerging Kerala investment meet will put forward a new chapter in Kerala’s development.