Emerging Kerala

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Date Submitted: 11/18/2012 08:12 AM

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Emerging kerala : Political issues and Impact

A global investors meet in Kochi this week has kicked up raging controversy. 'Emerging Kerala 2012' invites potential investors to explore business opportunities in the state and will showcase 232 projects in 26 sectors. Representatives from 52 countries are expected to attend the meet, scheduled between September 12 and 14. Political leaders, civil society groups and activists are irked because many of these projects, details of which are available on the 'Emerging Kerala' website, will adversely impact the environment.

It is the tourism projects which have provoked the maximum ire. Most of them are in eco-sensitive forest areas or on their fringes (see box). The leader of opposition in the state Assembly, V S Achuthanandan, even called for the cancellation of the meet.

“Most of the participants of 'Emerging Kerala' will be those who have the sole interest of getting quick returns on their investments,” says R V G Menon, environmental activist. “In the present scenario, real estate business is the money spinner and all these tourism projects are disguised real estate deals.” When his attention is drawn to the statement by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that land would be given to investors only on lease and that ownership will remain with the state, Menon’s response is: “it is technically correct, the government is not selling the land. But giving land for 99 years lease is as good as selling it. Perhaps it is a win-win situation for the beneficiaries as they don’t have to shell out huge amounts for the land, but at the same time enjoy all the advantages of owned land.”

espite its impressive social indices and affluence sponsored by foreign remittances, Kerala has been a lemon when it comes to industrial development. A proclaimed goal of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, when he assumed power a year ago, was to change this. Though his efforts to achieve it often hit roadblocks set up by a suspicious opposition led by...