By VS Chandrasekar
Kerala will soon formulate an industrial policy under which a single-window system will be put in place to clear investment applications while making it easy to do business in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.
More than a year after his CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government came to power, he says corruption is a thing of the past in Kerala and industrialists are now keen to invest in the state.
"We're making policies towards ease of doing business. We're formulating a policy where an industry would get clearance in a particular number of days after filing an application. It would happen soon. We are working towards making Kerala one of the best states in the country," Vijayan told IANS in an interview.
He said corruption was a big problem in Kerala. "But now there is a common understanding that there is no corruption. Problems at the top level have been removed. Now industrialists are interested to come. And law and order situation is stable and people are ready to come to the state (for investment)," he said.
Asked about new investments, Vijayan said information technology was one field where the state was lacking a bit because of the economic slowdown. "But new investments have been promised. Infosys has promised new investment and one other company has also come forward to invest in the state."
The 73-year-old Chief Minister said before the LDF came to power, there was a sense of hopelessness. "There were many achievements we had made earlier but after that nothing was going forward. There was a standstill. There was climate where nothing was going forward. Many plans were stuck. The state's common demands were not being met.
"For example, the problem of national highway widening. Everyone had agreed for 45 m (width of the highway), all political parties had accepted for 45 metres. But, it was kept aside. When we came, we said everyone had agreed for 45 m, so we have to implement it now. When we decided to do it, the people were with us."
Earlier, he said, the feeling was that no land could be acquired. At some places there were groups which were supposedly protesting for the people. But the reality was that groups which oppose everything were opposing the move. "But we took a stand that it should be done."
He said now, apart from the normal delay in land acquisition, there was no situation that land cannot be acquired due to people's opposition.
From Kasaragod (in north Kerala), many places have reached a stage where tendering can be done. Thalassery bypass has reached tendering stage. In rest of the places, decisons on how much land has to acquired are being taken. Everyone believes that things will happen now, Vijayan said.
Similarly, Vijayan said GAIL was laying a pipeline to take liquified natural gas (LNG) from Petronet in Kochi to Mangalore. "We also need this for our power plants. The plan was kept aside thinking that it won't happen. When we came, we said this has to be implemented. Some people opposed it as usual. If some people oppose, government will have to take action if we have to go forward. Now the project is going to be completed in a time-bound manner."
He said the Kudankulam power line had to go through Kottayam and in some places rubber trees had to be cut and the project was abandoned because of that.
"We said it has to be implemented. We took due procedures. A former Chief Minister called and said we should come to a compromise. We didn't have any problem with it. We just wanted to make the project work and there was nothing else. Now the project is going on. These are the changes. Now there is a belief that things will happen."
He said almost all public sector units were suffering losses. Some have now become profitable and work is underway to make the rest profitable.