After creating a political storm across the state, UDF’s Aishwarya Kerala Yatra led by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala reached Idukki. “What I heard most from the people were the unique challenges that Idukki is facing,” he said, after addressing a crowd at an event there. He criticised the government for turning a blind eye to the sharp fall in the price of cash crops and the plight of farmers.
Ramesh Chennithala said, “The Pinarayi government has completely neglected Idukki. The LDF government hasn’t taken any action to maintain the Idukki Medical College, which was started during the last UDF government. The government has also taken an irresponsible stand on the buffer zone adjacent to the forest.”
The state government has played a major role in declaring buffer zones. Kerala has recommended a kilometre radius as a buffer zone from wildlife sanctuaries and forest areas. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu recommended zero kilometres. It is high time that Kerala should rectify its recommendation similar to TN, stated Ramesh.
He lashed out at the Pinarayi government’s negligence towards the Idukki Medical College project initiated by the Oommen Chandy government. “The LDF has abolished the Idukki Medical College started by the Oommen Chandy government. Despite waiting for five years, the government did not initiate any step to carry forward the project,” he said, questioning the government’s laxness in the matter.
The Opposition Leader stressed that other Medical College projects are also waiting for the LDF government’s attention, which includes a second medical college in Thiruvananthapuram, one in Haripad, Wayanad and Kasargod. He stressed that the progress of Kasargod Medical College’s construction has been going at a snail’s pace. The Opposition Leader didn’t forget to highlight the Rs 5,000 crore Idukki packages, “which remains a promise”.
In the last few years, Kerala has been witness to a few tragedies including two floods and the Pettimudi incident. “It is common knowledge that the government was not able to support the victims of these tragedies. As initial support, the victims of the Pettimudi tragedy received only Rs 5 Lakh and rehabilitation works are yet to be completed,” Ramesh said.
He reiterated that the 2018 floods have been a man-made incident, caused when the Kerala government had opened the dams together. “It became one of the biggest catastrophes in the history of Kerala. The government’s promise to provide agricultural land to those who lost their land and houses is still pending. Besides, ‘Rebuild Kerala’ has been a complete failure. The promise of rehabilitating people in hilly areas prone to natural disasters remains mere promises,” he adds.
The Opposition Leader also added that the state government had failed to support the agriculture sector, which is “facing a deep decline”. “UDF had announced a price stabilisation fund when the price of rubber came down to Rs 90. The LDF government has not initiated enough steps to ensure adequate prices for cash crops such as rubber, tea, cardamom, coffee, pepper and others. Importantly, nearly 21 farmers committed suicide during the LDF regime alone.”
Ramesh Chennithala said that the people would reject the anti-people and anti-peasant Left Front in the next elections. He even assured that if UDF comes to power, adequate steps would be taken to protect wildlife and agricultural land.