Kochi: The central government is ready to allocate the required funds to Kerala for national highway development, but land acquisition remains a complex and complicated issue in the state, union minister for surface transport Nitin Gadkari has said.
“The state ought to change its attitude towards development. If there is no willpower and resolve, nothing other long discussions and surveys will happen,” the minister said.
He was speaking after laying the foundation stone for the international ship repair facility of the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) at Cochin Port Trust.
“The Center aims to implement road projects worth Rs 25 crore lakh over a period of five years. Of which, about Rs 7 lakh crore has already been spent. However, a major portion of the fund allotted to Kerala for road infrastructure projects remains unused.
“There are also plans to raise Rs 10 lakh crore from general public through issue of bonds. But without acquiring land for proposed projects, Kerala will not be able to utilize this amount,” he pointed out.
According to the minister, the proposed petroleum pipeline connecting the Kochi refinery and Salem will boost Cochin Port Trust’s revenues.
“It is unfortunate that the work on laying the pipeline is still nowhere near completion. Much time has been wasted because of needless discussions and delay in getting approvals from multiple authorities. The state should raise this in Parliament to put an end to such unwarranted and unnecessary practices, he added.
The minister also confirmed that the move to sell Cochin Shipyard’s shares was not aimed at privatizing the profit-making yard.
“The money raised through the IPO will be used for the construction of a new dry and an international ship repair facility,” he said.
He stressed that the state government should devise plans to tap the potential of seaplane services linking various tourist destinations in the state. “It will definitely bolster the state’s tourism sector. Ferry services should also be introduced for cruise and leisure. The state should strive to implement such globally successful models,” he said.
The minister also promised land for Cochin Shipyard in other parts of the country for expansion.
K V Thomas MP, who presided over the function, said the Kochi port needed a ship repair facility that functions round-the-clock.
The Rs 970-crore international ship repair facility could benefit small-scale industries and public sector enterprises in the region, opined state industries minister A C Moideen.
Kochi Corporation mayor Soumini Jai, Hibi Eden MLA, K J Maxi MLA, CSL chairman Madhu S Nair, and Port Trust chairman P Raveendran spoke on the occasion.