Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Time has come for Kerala to take bold steps: Manmohan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Centre would assist Kerala in its plans for developing airport connectivity and improving the agriculture and plantation economy of the state.

Speaking after inaugurating the construction work of the new international terminal complex at the airport and laying the foundation for Air India's maintenance base here, Singh said the Centre had decided to improve airport infrastructure considering the importance of connectivity at a time when tourism was registering growth.

Stating that the Centre was aware of the anxieties of the plantation sector, he said the Government would not do anything to hurt the interests of people in the state. He wanted investors in the plantation sector to diversify investment and to make better use of new market opportunities in India and abroad.

"We need to make effective use of modern science and technology to improve productivity of plantation sector. At the same time, we must also be prepared to face competition from countries like Vietnam and Sri Lanka with whom we have long historical and fraternal relations," he said.

Singh said the UPA Government was committed to improving the agriculture and plantation sectors in Kerala, especially in areas like Wayanad and Alappuzha to help farmers and agricultural labourers.

He said the setting up of National Fisheries Development Board would give a boost to development of fisheries sector.

The Centre was taking steps for the development of country's port infrastructure. Azhikkal port in Kannur had been included in the National Maritime Development Programme. The harbour at Vizhinjam would also be developed, he said.

Singh said though Kerala in the past 50 years had been a symbol of highly impressive human development investments in education and healthcare, the state lagged behind in developing modern industries and knowledge economy.

"The time has come for Kerala to take bold steps forward and emerge as one of our leading states in every facet of socio-economic development," Singh said.

He said Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi should take advantage of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to upgrade its infrastructure in both the cities. A mass rapid transit facility could be developed at Kochi, he said.

The state should also take the benefit of 'Bharat Nirman' programme to improve rural electrification and road connectivity, Singh said.


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