Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kerala dissatisfied by agricultural allocation

Kerala Saturday said the funds sanctioned by the central government to overcome the state's agricultural crisis were 'insufficient'.

State Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters that his government had submitted a Rs.56.65-billion agriculture revival proposal to visiting Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar earlier this month, but was promised Friday a mere Rs.7.65 billion.

'This is a pittance,' he said, adding: 'But we are happy we at least got this much.'

'In the past, the centre always ignored the demands of the state. What has been sanctioned now has happened because of my government's perseverance,' Achuthanandan said.

The state's proposal included a Rs.34.12 billion revival package for five drought-affected districts - Palakkad, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Idukki and Alappuzha - and Rs.22.53 billion for the agriculture sector.

Over 500 suicides have been recorded in the state, especially Wayanad and Idukki districts, since 2001.

Kerala had also demanded Rs.3.5 billion for takeover of nearly 22 tea factories in the private sector where more than 25,000 employees are without jobs.

'The centre has, however, said that we could look for more - especially for Idukki and Alappuzha districts for which nothing has been allocated now. They have also said that we could get funds for the revival of the now closed down tea factories,' said Achuthanandan.

He added that such aid was a temporary relief and 'the need of the hour is to correct the wrong import policies of the country that have been drawn up on the basis of the World Trade Organisation's compulsions'.

'The state is losing Rs.70 billion every year on account of the drop in prices of cash crops of the state due to such wrong policies. Our party wants the federal policies with regards to imports corrected and that is the only permanent solution,' the chief minister said.


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