Rs 2,000 cr coastal development project still on the drawing board

Rs 2,000 cr coastal development project still on the drawing board

Thiruvananthapuram: A grandiose announcement made by the Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac in the last budget is yet to implemented even as he readies for another one this week.

The last State Budget had followed the Cyclone Ockhi that devastated the Kerala coast and aptly a special package for people of this vulnerable region was in order.

"Sir, I'm announcing a comprehensive package of Rs 2,000 crore for the overall development of coastal areas of Kerala," Isaac had said while reading the budget proposal in the legislative assembly last year.

Now, just two days remain for the next State Budget to be presented before the State Assembly. And, just two months are left for spending the funds allocated in the previous budget. What happened to the Rs 2,000 crore package that Isaac had offered for the fish workers and the residents of coastal villages? The question was raised at the State Assembly in last July. And just listen to the answer from the Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma: "The terms of reference for preparing the detailed project report (DPR) for the project are getting finalised."

Interestingly, an enquiry made the other day, six months after that reply, revealed ‘valuable information’ from the Department of Fisheries – "A private consultancy firm has been entrusted with preparing a detailed survey report for the package."

The government had appointed a committee led by a former chief secretary for the implementation of this project which was one of the largest development packages that have come up in recent times. That committee, in turn, handed over the responsibility of conducting a comprehensive survey to a private firm. No survey has been done so far and no project outline drafted so far. Now, by the time the package would be drafted and requisite permissions obtained, even the term of the present LDF government may run out.

Even in the new Budget, we are awaiting for the bumper announcements for building a post-flood 'Nava Keralam' It remains to be seen what would be the future of those proposals.