VS calls for new development agenda 
Kerala

VS calls for new development agenda 

It was sharp criticism of the pre-flood operations during the special session of the Kerala Assembly today where veteran leader V S Achuthanandan after pointing lapses called for a new development model.

Among the 50 legislators assigned to address the House, the CPM leaders Saji Cherian and Raju Abraham, representing badly-hit Chengannur and Ranni, respectively, were kept out. Incidentally, the two had during the flood been highly critical of the flood operations.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in all there were 483 deaths in the monsoon fury and there were 14 missing cases. Besides, there were more than 50,000 people still in relief camps. He was all praise for the relief operations involving locals and fishermen.

Achuthanandan felt there was the need to rework the whole development strategy with focus on environmental issues and bemoaned ignoring the Gadgil Committee recommendations for political gains. He was highly critical of several ongoing development projects. He attributed the disaster to flaws in planning and said indiscriminate quarrying and filling of wetlands added to the problems. He cautioned against the Government relaxing rules for any particular section.
He wanted the Munnar mission to be relaunched and strict curbs on demolition of hills, encroachment of forest land and reclaiming of wetlands.

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala accused the Government of being behind the disaster and wanted action against officials for their lapses.

Congress leader V D Satheeshan said lack of planning by the government triggered floods and wanted to know why people with no idea of dam management being at the helm of affairs.

Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said proper steps had been taken and praised the leadership of the Chief Minister.

Pinarayi, as is wont, chided CPI leader Eldho Abraham when he sought more financial support for the victims. Pinarayi asked him whether he knew his figures and what support was being given by the Centre.

Separately, a team of MPs from the State, led by A K Antony, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and sought more Central aid. They also wanted the Centre to amend laws to allow the State get foreign assistance.

Rajnath Singh told the team that all issues would be sorted out when the Chief Minister and his officials visited Delhi in a few weeks and promised all support to the State.