What is the Kerala government’s overall infrastructure development plan for the 12th Five-Year Plan period? How much is the state going to invest in infrastructure?
The government intends to develop road, rail, mass transportation, urban infrastructure, power and water supply projects in the 12th Plan period. A majority of the projects are proposed to be implemented through the SPV route. Public-private participation will be increasingly used. Thus, the government’s Plan Fund for infrastructure development in the 12th Plan will be brought down and leveraged.
The allocation envisaged in the 12th Plan period is around Rs.15,000 crore for areas that include power, roads and bridges, ports, IT, tourism infrastructure etc.
Total remittances from non-resident Keralites abroad in 2011 is estimated at Rs.50,000 crore compared to Rs.43,288 crore in 2008. However, this huge amount has not been put to use in infrastructure development.
The government is keen to offer investment opportunities for NRKs and their increased participation in the economic activity of the state will be ensured. In a large number of mega infrastructure projects planned in the state, like the high-speed rail corridor, new international airports and expansion of existing ones, development of minor ports, gas based power projects, the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone, the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Region, metro rail and mono rail projects. NRI participation will be sought. By developing these mega projects, the government is hoping to channelise a large portion of NRI remittance for productive investment in the state.
For planned economic growth, your government intends to use public funds as a catalyst for attracting large private investment, especially in building public infrastructure.
In order to achieve economic growth, vital projects are planned in the basic infrastructure, power, airport, seaport, industrial infrastructure and other important sectors. The government will set up an SPV with its own contribution to initiate development of the projects and thereafter attract private investment at an appropriate stage.
Do you see more infrastructure projects being taken up in PPP mode?
Yes. The government has set up an agenda for the development of the state and PPP will be encouraged in the infrastructure sector.
Can you tell us about the high-speed rail corridor project which was recently approved by the central government?
For implementing the high-speed rail corridor, an SPV viz. Kerala High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd has been incorporated. The high-speed rail corridor will be developed between Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalapuram. By engaging DMRC, a pre-feasibility report has already been prepared. Nine stations are proposed inside Kerala. Work for preparation of a DPR is underway. Also, steps have been initiated to identify low-cost funding for the mega project.
This will be the first high-speed rail project in India and it will create large opportunities for employment and economic growth.
Do you have a road map for the development of transportation infrastructure?
Yes. Steps will be taken for developing road and rail network and water transport system in the state. For important cities, mass transportation schemes, such as metro rail and monorail, will be implemented. Various road development schemes will also be taken up on priority.
Kerala still faces peak electricity shortage of -4.3 per cent (-142 MW). How does the state intend to overcome power shortage and provide electricity to all citizens, especially in rural villages?
The government has prepared a plan to double the power generation in the 12th Plan period. Natural gas infrastructure comprising an LNG terminal and gas pipeline network is under implementation in the state. Gas-based power plants will be encouraged in the private sector as well as in the joint sector for reducing the power deficit.
The government will also encourage non-conventional energy sources like windmills and solar power. Generation of power using petroleum coke to be produced by BPCL Kochi Refinery will also be encouraged.
Using the above methods and also by improving energy conservation methods, the power shortage in the state will be addressed.
The Centre and Kerala government are jointly planning to invest Rs.500 crore to boost tourism in the state.
Kerala has been doing very well in the tourism sector. Tourism infrastructure will be improved under the Vision Tourism 2025. MICE tourism will be encouraged. Infrastructure support by way of road, room stock availability, operation of seaplanes etc., will be facilitated.
According to 2011 census, nearly 48 per cent of Kerala’s population now lives in urban areas. Tell us the government initiatives in urban infrastructure and affordable housing.
The government intends to facilitate urban infrastructure by implementing mass transportation projects. Urban waste management schemes will be implemented with increased participation of the public. The government is keen to implement affordable housing schemes in urban areas.
Land acquisition for infrastructure projects is a major issue across India. How are you tackling this problem in Kerala?
Kerala has framed a rehabilitation package while taking up land acquisition for mega projects. Adequate rehabilitation measures will be ensured while acquiring land from the landowners. The possibility of making landowners as stakeholders in the project will also be explored.
What is your long-term vision for the economic, industrial and infrastructure development of Kerala?
The long-term vision for Kerala’s development is positive. The socioeconomic advancement of the state will facilitate the industrial and infrastructure development envisaged in the state. Increased number of projects will be implemented with PPP. The full support of NRIs will be ensured to go ahead with the state’s industrial and infrastructure development.
(Interviewed by Sandeep Menezes)