Kerala, one of the smallest states in India, is a densely populated State with 33.3 Million people and naturally the land becomes precious. Similarly there are 44 rivers and copious rains in the state and yet it experiences drought and drinking water problems almost every year because of poor water Management. Those two things, the Land and water resources are sensitive issues in Kerala and all industrial development projects and infra structure projects shatter on those two hard rocks. The politicians who have vested interests know that those issues are sensitive enough to make people against any worthwhile project.
It is to be admitted that projects requiring huge land mass are not suitable for Kerala. But instead of rejecting all projects at one blow, a wise evaluation weighing benefits and loss is the need of the hour. For example, a high speed road and rail corridor the entire length of the state have many long term benefits where the loss of land comes secondary when the advantages are considered. But three or four international airports for this small state ( length of 580 KMs ) can be reconsidered.
Similarly, if check-dams are built at strategic points in the rivers of Kerala there will be no water scarcity in the State. It also is not happening despite drinking water scarcity during summer.
Generating electricity from Sunlight is in live discussion but it is unlikely to take off if the past records of various projects are any indication.
Sri Montek Singh Ahluwalia,Deputy chairman of the planning commission, during a visit to Kerala had suggested to utilize paddy fields for industrial use in emergency cases. The suggestion invited a host of criticism saying that he was talking for the industrialists and land Mafias ( a frequently used word in Kerala) and that not an inch of a paddy field should be spared for other use etc etc. The irony of it is that there are acres upon acres of paddy field left uncultivated for the simple reason that laborers for working in the paddy fields are not available and even if got they would charge exorbitant wages making the paddy cultivation both tedious and unprofitable. The problems in that area are deep-rooted and cannot be solved easily. So the farmers leave the field barren. The theorists in Kerala would neither solve issues affecting paddy cultivation nor allow the fields for other uses.
There is no dearth for worthwhile essential projects in Kerala that need immediate attention, but they are either asleep in the Government files or are en mired in hot controversies. A sad example is the much hyped Kuttanad Package which envisaged all round development to Kuttanad region has not moved an inch since the last five years though there was no paucity of funds or Center's cooperation. The works are in files of various offices .
Essentially there are only two political parties in Kerala, the communists and non-communists. Since the State’s psyche has an express tilt towards left, the non-communist block or the U D F too have leaders who are communists in thinking but simply stay on the non-communists group for their convenience. This complicates things as policy differences and opposition comes first from the party M L A s themselves and no new projects can be done in the state easily.
The Media also gives prominence to the petty, day-to-day political gossips in Newspapers and T V which in turn makes the society over politicized. It is a vicious circle of sort and not sure which one element got politicized first , the Media or the people. Though Kerala is the most literate State, the circulation of English newspapers in Kerala is the lowest among the South Indian states meaning that majority of people enjoy spicy political gossips that are abundant in vernacular Newspapers.
The real problem of Kerala lay in its left leaning psyche which does not like private players in any venture that needs land, water or B O P arrangement. There is also a perennial distrust and aversion against private entrepreneurs, private capital and capital forces. The distrust runs deep in to the State's history and social structure.
So the biggest challenge that the ‘Emerging Kerala’ might face is in introducing some capitalists to the unfriendly face of Kerala and make them work together.
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