Former FAO (UN) Team Leader of M&E
Hon Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan Vijayan,
Shri Pinarayi Vijayan,
Hon Chief Minister of Kerala,
Govt of Kerala, Trivandrum
Hon Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan,
Hope you do recall me as we had a few interactions earlier before you became CM—one at your flat in Trivandrum and a few at Aluva Palace. I must congratulate you for leading the state with firm forward looking decisions and positive outlook. Please find given here under a few policy thoughts emanated from a brain storming done under our newly formed Sustainable Development Forum (SDF)-Think Tank of Development Experts for you and your team to ponder over to provide good governance:
1) Empowerment though quality education must be a focus area. How to skill our growing youth and thus giving them an upper hand is of utmost importance. Soft skills are to be imparted to the job searching both from within and without the state. The Punarjani scheme for developing soft skills for women may be taken up on war footing all over the state for all our employable youth. Our youth are good in terms of the all India average, but when it comes to the stage of expressing they fail very badly.
2) The land resurveys to be accorded top priority and must be completed without flaws in a time bound schedule.
3) There shall be no adivasi—tribal- in Kerala by the end of your five year regime without housing and proper land titles.
4) At least one member of each Adivasi family to have gainful employment and assured food security. In fact the looting of grains etc through PDS to be stopped fully and the end use to be monitored for all –BPL-APL categories in the state by making use of the modern technology.
5) Drinking water is very important. In the backdrop of the climate change, well articulated plans are to be there to provide drinking water to all. The unused ponds, lakes and wells are to be cleaned with people’s participation may be with the active support of local bodies to make them as good water storage tanks for dry season and to ensure good scope for underground water recharge for sources of drinking water. In drought prone areas bigger water storage tanks to collect rain water may be got ready to face the dry season challenges, as being done in Tamil Nadu. It may be taken into consideration that during the summer of 2017 Kerala may face unheard of drought conditions. The State disaster management authority (SDMA) may be beefed up to face any such crisis.
6) Kerala has a vast water body—in land water body; it has to be cleaned well with the help of local people organisations like SHGs to introduce fish stock for future harvest and income generation as well as adequate protein intake for the people without taking polluted fish coming to Kerala from other states and from our own greedy merchants of death. Again farming of lotus may be taken up for temple uses, medicinal uses and even as an excellent food item.
7) Solar power may be widely popularised in the rural areas too with roof top solar harvesting techniques taking in to consideration the heavy rainfall in Kerala and the reduced battery life of the system with KSEB buy back system of the power thus generated from each household. Solar may be installed over canals, Ponds, lakes, rivers, dams, highways, etc to have fuller utilisation of unhindered sun. The classic case is the success stories of Gujarat, Israel and Germany.
8) The power transmission loss to be minimised by resorting to UG cable system as our state is having thick vegetation like rubber trees, coconuts, etc.
9) Rural areas to be made attractive for the youth to stay back by providing good and decent jobs and with the IRMA ( Anand—Gujarat) type initiatives in the country we need to make conscious efforts to make supplementary income earning opportunities for our rural masses like IT related enterprises and home stay tourism.
10) Rural areas to be made attractive with assured power supply, drinking water supply, good roads, excellent internet facilities, good and affordable schools, medical facilities, ambulance assistance, shopping malls etc. Within four years all of Kerala must have free Wi fi coverage for all its villages.
11) The citizen contact points of government to be made responsive and corruption free like the Chinese system. Our village offices, local government offices, hospitals, schools are to be beefed up as transparent and corruption free places as citizens must not be asked to keep on visiting these places for their legitimate needs under one excuse or the other.
12) Micro Finance may be promoted on a large scale to empower the poor and marginalised with buy back facilities for the produce of the borrowers if they make anything unless engaged in trading, etc. Financial inclusion opens the door for potentially game changing opportunities. The best vehicle for propagation of successful MF is under the aegis of Kudumbasree Mission.
13) Primary sector—agriculture- to be made remunerative by resorting to new crops where we have comparative advantage and setting up crop insurance and dairy animal insurance schemes as being practiced in Gujarat. Value addition may be tried out in many areas to support rural incomes. Again cold storage facilities may made available to avoid post – harvest loses.
14) Our tree crops, particularly rubber must be saved. Unless that is not possible in the near future, plan state wide innovative crop rehabilitation schemes like export market oriented cut flower industry, fish export as being done countries like Vietnam with assured markets for the highly disillusioned rural masses. Rice paddy fields are becoming a history in Kerala due to known economic reasons .If paddy cultivation is not an economic proposition in many areas, we may consider fish farming in such areas with innovative schemes and assured buy back arrangements. Minimum support prices may be worked out based on cost of cultivation plus the opportunity cost to sustain the primary sector. We may think of poultry farms along with rubber and coconut trees to support the small and marginal farmers with tie up arrangements with reputed agencies like the MPI—Koothattukulam.
15) We should scrap many of the loss making firms and corporations. They should not be white elephants and to serve only to accommodate own henchmen or to oblige some political poor performers. If necessary to keep them going, better man them with known leaders who can make them centres of excellence-profit making units.
16) Roads are essential for development. We need excellent roads to quicken the process of development. May be we need super express high ways, two at least ,from north to south with side roads connecting the two at focal points in east -west directions.
17) Again on roads, we may think of five year guaranteed sealed roads once they are tarred. The annual or occasional maintenance like cleaning of grass, bush on either side of roads or cleaning drains for water logged stretches may be entrusted with SHGs for affordable stretches as is being done in other developing countries in Asia.
18) Rain water harvesting must be made mandatory for new buildings to tackle the impending water crisis. Again rain water harvesting may be taken up as a state mission in drought prone areas as an ongoing project. Check dams may be erected where it is possible to stop the free running of water to the sea waters. Our top priority must be to ensure the maximum recharge of rain water to the deep soil so that our water bodies get plenty of water to irrigate from even in drought areas.
19) River sand mining to be done only after scientific studies. We may think of alternatives to river sand like M-sand. Sustainable development must be the non negotiable creed for any such interventions.
20) Quarry mining to be very strictly monitored, managed and controlled for its environmental impact and its ramifications of denudating forest areas. Kerala must have both development and the environment side by side as an on going process.
21) River Management Authority may be set up to study its pollution and waste dumping from hospitals and markets and even households. Like the Thames River salvaging done in UK, we need to save our rivers from the impending catastrophe.
22) Social audit must be made mandatory along with statutory audit for all projects and activities that are being undertaken by local bodies including Thozhil Urappu—SHG. It is widely accused that the rural employment scheme –- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (hereafter MGNREGA) is the most abused scheme in many places judged by productivity considerations.
23) Paddy Land and Wetland Act of 2008 to be re-examined to make it demand driven for small and marginal farmers and the landless who are looking for homestead parcel of land ,etc
24) CIAL ( Nedumbassery air port) type investment opportunities may be replicated for yielding regular income for our “Pravasees” as well as to make them partners in nation building too. This among others would address the possible challenges of overseas returning Kerala population.
25) Waste management is a real challenge to be faced squarely. Plans must be in place to sort out both solid and non solid waste and even to convert manure out of it. Plastics disposal is the need of the day. We wonder what people do with the household plastics. Burning it is the most dangerous thing as many cancer causing chemicals are released into air. Every household must have home composting facilities.
26) The menace of uncontrolled removal of soil and levelling of hills and mountains for quarry work and such other reckless land filling to be contained forthwith. Or else Kerala will be a barren land with only concrete buildings in the near future.
27) Hartal Industry and Bandh industry must be contained to give welcome signs to investors and to ensure that Kerala is easy do business. Similarly Nookuu cooli to be totally abolished with an iron fist. Even foreign investors need not worry about their capital and its repatriation with profits.
28) We must move aggressively to diversify the economy away from dependence on other states and other countries to make us feel good with assured employment opportunities. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index must be gainfully and critically examined to our advantage in Kerala. Opportunities for women could alienate inequalities and unleash the growth potential. Let us remember that reduction of inefficiencies could substantially increase the economic dividends from investments for all in the long run leading us to a welfare state. Within two years Kerala to be fully free from open defecation (ODF).
Please note that none of us from SDF is interested to seek any office in the government or any consultancy as well. This is an unpaid service being rendered by our think-tank for Kerala.