Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala should take a new path after eliminating sociopolitical ills like hartal to achieve all-round development, especially in the aftermath of the destructive floods, stressed key personalities who took part in the ‘Keralam Nale’ development summit organised jointly by Malayala Manorama and Manorama News here on Thursday.
Only an effort that ensures the support of all sections of the people can help rebuild Kerala after the floods, Industries Minister E P Jayarajan said at the meet. The balance between nature and man has to be maintained during the reconstruction, he remarked.
“Technology from all parts of the world should be made available for the work. Preliminary estimates put the amount needed for the purpose at around Rs 31,000 crore. But the money collected so far is barely Rs 5,000 crore. This includes donations to the Chief minister’s distress relief fund and Central aid,” said Jayarajan. Kerala faces the big challenge of raising the remaining money, he added.
“Individuals, people’s collectives and institutions have to be part of the rebuilding effort and the government is seeking their cooperation,” he stressed.
Jayarajan also said that a new ‘Kerala model’ has to be demonstrated during the reconstruction.
“Pragmatism is a crucial factor in overcoming challenges. The government’s decision to rope in fishermen for the rescue missions during the flood was revolutionary. The real worth of the fishermen’s efforts cannot be measured in monetary terms,” he said.
Stressing that ideas are important, the minister said only at such development summits would path-breaking thoughts emerge.
Implementation is key
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, who delivered the keynote address, said that though the state government offered practical suggestions for reconstruction of the state post floods, the implementation leaves much to be desired.
“We have to examine what we learnt from the flood tragedy. Kerala is unprepared to face such disasters. Guidelines of the National Disaster Management Act could not be followed,” he said. “But such a situation should not be repeated. Estimates of losses caused by disasters have to be prepared professionally and the reconstruction plans prepared only later.”
According to him, rebuilding should consider humanitarian aspects too. “People’s representatives have to be made part of the effort and social audit carried out to ensure the success of the programmes,” he pointed out.
Other suggestions made by Chennithala include asking the Central government to prepare flood relief programmes, making provisions for post-flood reconstruction in the coming budget and coordinating the rebuilding efforts of the local bodies.
Addressing the gathering, Malayala Manorama Chief Editor Mammen Mathew said that society as well as the political leadership should take a pledge to create a new Kerala.
“The state now trails behind the national average on many parameters. For instance, pollution has reached unmanageable proportions in Kerala, which was once a clean and tidy place,” he said.
“Hartal is a weapon, but it should not become a curse. The biggest blessing Kerala can have is the cooperation between political parties for the state’s development,” added Mammen Mathew.
Malayala Manorama editorial director Mathews Varghese proposed the vote of thanks.
SUGGESTIONS ON ‘FUTURE KERALA’
Moderator: G Vijayaraghavan (Founder CEO, Technopark and Planning Board former member)
Panel: Dr K M Abraham, M Shivasankar (Secretary, IT Department), Dr Ravi Raman (Member, Planning Board), K Nandakumar (President and CEO, SunTec Buisiness Solutions),
E M Najeeb (Senior vice-president, IATA), Jennifer (Official at German honorary consulate), Gopinath Parayil (Blue Yonder), Dr B G Sreedevi (NATPAC senior scientist), Dr G Kishore (Principal, LNCPE) , Anil Kumar (COO, Taurus India) and Ajay Padmanabhan (CEO, Sports Hub).
Sanctions for tourism projects should be given based on strict norms, especially in ecologically fragile areas. Master plans have to be prepared for each area and responsible and sustainable projects implemented. The guidelines prepared regarding tourism in 2008 have to be followed.
With local participation, tourism spots need to be developed.
At present, roads in Kerala are repaired every year by laying tar and crushed rock over the existing surface, thereby raising the height. However, if the full depth reclaimed (FDR) method is employed, cost can be reduced. A trial of this method was carried out in Pathanamthitta.
Technical studies have to be made mandatory basis before laying any new road and guidelines of Indian Road Congress followed. To find the funds for road maintenance, toll system should be implemented.
Falling prices of agricultural produce can be checked by avoiding competition with third-world countries. However, competition with developed nations would be beneficial to the farm sector. Farmers should be given the freedom to choose the crop they wish to grow. Laws related to land reforms have to be amended for the purpose.
Cultivation of crops that can thrive even during climate change has to be encouraged. ‘Pokkali,’ for instance. Enable growing of only vegetables and other crops that are safe for consumption.
Carry out plastic-free drives to ensure that the maximum areas are free from the menace over the next five years. Efforts aimed at setting up mechanisms to record water level during floods have to be implemented. Similarly, the situation in disaster-hit areas has to be recorded utilising free platforms. Elaborate studies have to take place regarding water channels and sources.
Aim for more private-public cooperation. Comprehensive health insurance is mandatory for economically weak sections. Make the state an accident-free place. A trauma care cadre system has to be set up roping in doctors, nurses and volunteers. Costs can be reduced in health sector by making Ayurveda, Kalari treatment and other traditional healing methods a part of wellness.
Modern equipment can improve training. Moreover, sports like canoeing and swimming will help people overcome natural disasters. By hosting international and national sporting events, Kerala can benefit financially.
Existing stadiums have to be modernised with sufficient parking facilities. Inspire school and college students to take up sporting activities to prevent lifestyle diseases.
Only a massive revamp of the higher education sector can check the trend of students from Kerala heading to other states for studies. Faculty and higher-ups in the sector have to be given training to help them understand the changes taking place in the sector.
Introduce transparency in government programmes, services and rules by bringing them on a single platform. Kerala has two smart cities now, but technological advancements should enable the entire state to become ‘smart’.