Ten-time-in-a-row Congress MLA from the same Puthupally assembly constituency, Oommen Chandy is justifiably the Kerala Chief Minister because, say politically vibrant and alert Kerala’s political observers of all hues, he is equanimous, decision-taker, ‘sane’, administrator par excellence. Most important, Chandy is non-controversial. No wonder, he has representatives from varied Kerala Congress-B, IUML, SJD, KC-J, RSP-B, Kerala Congress-M in his ministry. An inveterate Congressman, Chandy rose up the Congress ladder via Kerala students Congress (student wing name of Congress in Kerala), Kerala Youth Congress and the AICC. He is also a trade unionist to the core. It is only natural then that he is always identified with Aam Aadmi. In an exclusive interview with Lok Panchayat, cogent Chandy touches a repertoire of issues presently prevalent in Kerala.
Q- As Chief Minister of Kerala, what are your priorities for the state?
A- We have announced a 100 day programme comprising things to do : They are:
details of inspection of assets: Ministers and their families, Senior Officers under the category of All India Service Officers and Department Heads, Personnel Staff of Ministers together with their family members, Advocate General and Government Law Officers together with their family members; all government orders will be on the website on the same day of their issue; the price bid result of all Government tenders will be on the website on the day of opening of the bid; all Government contracts and agreements will be on the website on the same day of their signing away. Department level action against the officials who make delay in giving copies of the government files in stipulated time on the requests under Right to Information Act; facility for online filing of applications and payment for Right to Information Act; fee for applying under Right to Information Act will be accepted in all government offices in the State as Postal Order or Money Order; by maintaining confidential nature, total protection for the informers of corruption in the model of whistle blower protection policy of Chief Vigilance Commission. Special set up at Chief Minister’s Office to receive such information Reward for those aiding in detection of corruption Citizens Charter in all offices. Chief Vigilance Commission’s guidelines will be implemented in the tender / procurement / purchase procedures State Lok Ayukta Bill will be revised and strengthened in accordance with the Lokpal Bill, being prepared jointly by the Central Government and the civil society Plan for Financial and Social Pre Audit will be prepared for the major projects in Kerala, taking into consideration of the planned resource spending, transparency and the social achievement from these projects Chief Minister’s Office will function 24×7. Live Web Casting of the functioning of Chief Minister’s Office; Grievance Redressal Cell will function at District Collectorates; Mass Contact programme in all districts under the leadership of Chief Minister; Each minister will be entrusted to coordinate development and welfare activities in each district Mass Contact programme at Taluk Headquarters under District Collector’s leadership; Special arrangements in the offices of Chief Minister and Ministers for monitoring of programme implementation and evaluation. This will be monitored by Chief Minister. Steps being taken to implement target and goal setting exercise in the developmental programmes at three-tier panchayats. The Performance Management and Evaluation System under Central Cabinet Secretariat will be implemented. Emphasis will be given to department-level coordination and combining of e-governance programmes on the basis of the recommendations of the National E-Governance Programme of the Central Government; workshop for the Cabinet, in collaboration with IIM, Kozhikode; state of the art system with the help of information technology to receive suggestions from people online as part of the public debate for bringing Kerala fast ahead. 25 kg. rice at Rs.1 a kg for all families living below the poverty line will be disbursed during Onam after completing all procedures within 100 days. Rs.1 a kg rice will be given to the orphans also. Ration cards will be issued after clearing three lakh pending applications. There after ration cards will be issued on the same day of applying. Tribes who are not government employees or their income does not cross Rs.25,000 will be included in the BPL List. Vegetable seed kits will be distributed at houses. Ashraya Scheme will be spread in all panchayats. Helpless and extremely poor people will be included in it. Those who are totally exhausted will be protected under Ashraya Scheme. Anganvadi teachers and helpers, who resigned for contesting in the election for local self government institutions, will be given reappointment. In future, Anganvadi Teachers and Helpers need not resign to contest in the election for local self government institutions. Those who won in the election will be given opportunity to rejoin in their job after their term. The wage of the cooking staff of Mid-day meal programme will be enhanced. Moolampilly package will be implemented. After identifying the flaws in the Chengara Rehabilitation, solution will be found out. Steps to strictly curb child labour and child begging. Rehabilitation activities of the unmarried mothers of Wayanad will be completed. For the nets damaged by sea-toads, new ones will be given to the fisher folk. Physically-impaired certificates will be issued in all blocks. Vayomithram project which gives aid to the aged, will be implemented in 14 districts. Health Care Insurance Programme will be implemented more effectively and extensively. Police actions and awareness programmes to curb the extensive usage of tobacco and products including pan parag. Insurance Programme to meet the coast of treatment of people admitted to hospitals due to road accidents. Anti-narcotic clubs in college campuses. E-Muster Roll will be implemented transparently. Model Social Audit in all 14 districts. Wage distribution lagging from 30 to 40 days will be made within 15 days (Zero Delay). Labour Policy to protect the rights of labourers, enhancing job opportunities and ensuring productivity. Steps will be taken to end the practice of collecting nokkukooli. The arrears of those procured paddy at Kuttanad will be cleared. Compensation will be given to the loss due to summer rain. Sufficient harvesting machines will be purchased. Plan to protect owners of farms adjacent to forest land from the threat of wild animals. Agriculture Research and Training Institute will be started with Central aid to develop aptitude towards agriculture among students and youth. Commencement of decentralised garbage treatment with the help of local self government institutions. Steps will take to achieve the target of Clean Kerala with the help of public participation. Lottery Ordinance will be replaced with an Act in the first Session itself. The exploitation of other state lottery will be stopped. Will cherish State Lottery. Clear steps to make Kerala invest-friendly state again. Industrial and IT policies needed to this will be formulated. Investment Promotion and Employment Creation Agency will be formulated under Chief Minister to attract investment. Investment Advisory Council of Chief Minister will be formulated
Chief Minister-Minister level meeting with IT, Tourism, Education and Health Care investors in India and abroad. In this, the participation of Non-Resident Keralites will be ensured. Discussion in Delhi with Ambassadors/High Commissioners of various countries about the investment possibilities in the State. The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy of the State will be coordinated with that of Central Government. Environment Impact Study Committee will be organised
Stringent steps to materialise Smart City, Vizhinjam Harbour, Kochi Metro, Kannur Airport, Capital City Development Programmes etc. Land Acquisition Policy acceptable to the land owners will be formulated
Market price will be given to land owners. If the evictees do not want money as compensation for the acquired land, they will be entitled to Transferable Development Right. Land will be acquired only after giving compensation to the owners. Special Rehabilitation Package for those who lose homes. The first beneficiary of the projects is he/she who loses land for the same. Constructional activities of the National Waterway and State Waterway will be commenced. Arrangement in Delhi to obtain more projects and packages by making Centre-State relationship more concrete and for the follow up of the same. Help lines will be implemented to inform complaints about the maintenance of roads under government and to get redressed them. Stringent action against the criminals in Police. Anti-Goonda Act will be strictly implanted. Strict action against the law breakers and quotation teams after preparing Goonda list. Legal steps to protect the right of others while retaining the democratic right for agitation and protection. A special Committee headed by the Devaswom Minister will be formulated to implement the Sabarimala Master Plan. A Cell headed by DIG to take steps against the racket which destroys cinema industry through internet and fake CDs. Among the 1.40 lakh files held up in Secretariat, those having no legal encumbrance will be disposed off. Among the three lakh files held up in departments, those having no legal encumbrance will be disposed off. Steps for speedy disposal of the files held up in districts. All vacancies will be reported to PSC. In order to avert the apprehensions of rank holders after the implementation of uniform retirement, vacancies that would have arisen till the time of expiry of the rank list will be reported to the PSC. Steps to the implementation of Rs.560 crore activities in seven districts as part of the National Games awaited by sports Kerala, will be initiated. All the documents and the progress of works related to National Games will be published in the Website. Comprehensive programme to enhance the quality standards of general education sector. NOC to Higher Professional Self Financing Colleges. The three per cent job quota to the physically handicapped, blind, deaf and dumb will be implemented by filling the pending vacancies. Commencing of making all registration offices online, online application facility for Encumbrance Certificate and Copy of Deed in 10 Sub Registrar Offices has begun. Registration of Partnership Firm will be made online. Charitable Society Registration through online. Also are there: IT Policy, Housing Policy, Excise Policy, Tourism, Public-Private Partnership Policy, Unified Town and Country Planning Bill will be introduced, State Nutrition Policy, Youth Policy. Each Department has envisaged lots of projects and programmes that can be implemented within 100 days. Each department will ensure that they are implemented. Ministers of the concerned Departments will declare it.
Q- Do you agree that Kerala still has to achieve many things immediately to become a front ranking state in the whole country? What are those things and how will you achieve them and by when?
A- Kerala was first among states in India for many reasons. We had a ‘Kerala model’ of development which was discussed all over India. But we lost that fame because of the anti people policy and non planned development strategies of Left Governments. Now we are trying to bring back Kerala on track (with right zest and zeal).
Q- Industrialisation of Kerala – is it possible? If yes, by when and how. If no, why?
A- Once Kerala was a very attractive industrial hub. But later the unacclaimed labour practices like “Norkukooli” etc have given negative mark for the state. We have decided to abolish such type negative activities. We do have limitations of land for development and industry. But as far as tourism industry and IT industry is concerned we are moving with a greater momentum.
Q- How will Kerala partake of in the present globalisation-phenomenon so rampant in the whole country?
A- We are always very optimistic. All decisions of Congress part always have been in the interest of the nation. We have had great opportunity to make good benefits of globalization.
Q- Your comments on the agriculture in Kerala?
A- Now a days people have lost their interest in agriculture for many reasons. But our Government has given priority to it and is giving agriculture its due (and relevant) importance.
Q- Any plans to bring the non-resident Keralites settled abroad to Kerala and utilise them for rebuilding the state? If yes, by when do you plan to bring them? Does Kerala have enough, adequate, all round infrastructure to attract the non-resident Keralites? What needs to be done more to make Kerala NRK (non-resident Keralites) friendly?
A- NRKs are asset of our state. They are chunk of our earnings. Our state is taking all precaution to rehabilitate the returning NRKs. Our NRK department is coming up with new plans to safe guard the interest of NRKs in all manners.
Q- Are you satisfied with the Planning Commission’s annual fund allocation for Kerala or you want more and why?
A- UPA Government has been benevolent to Kerala always. We anticipate more support in future too.
Q- Which ministries in the Central Government, according to you, should accord more importance to Kerala and why?
A- We can’t point out a particular ministry like that. We need support from all ministers.
Q-How strong are the gram panchayats and municipal bodies in the state of Kerala? What needs to be done more to enable the normal people partake of in the administrative process comprising decision-making?
A- We have a very official and efficient Panchayati Raj system. The local self Governments in Kerala are competent enough to take any challenge and have now become role model in many matters.
Q- Your comments on e-governance in Kerala? How effective it is in relevance with Kerala state?
A- We have taken (considerable, adequate) steps to go ahead in e-governance. We are of the view that establishing e-governance is very essential to extend the benefits of governance to the (all) public at the earliest.
Q- How is the law and order situation in Kerala? What needs to be done more to keep the state absolutely peaceful?
A- We have a good law abiding society. The morale of police force is high in Kerala. We are taking some steps to make the law and order situation of Kerala a role model for other states.