KL This Week: LDF Govt Demands Extension for GST Compensation, Special Financial Assistance
Image by R Prakash
NewsClick brings to you a round-up of the important developments in Kerala during the past week including the demand by the state government for special financial assistance from the Centre, increasing thrust on 'work near home', the reemergence of discussions on the Silver Line project, approval for more Copra procurement and Congress’s protest in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi after the denial of relief from Gujarat High Court.
'EXTEND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE'
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has demanded special financial assistance from the Union government in the context of the recent restrictions on borrowing limits and the withdrawal of GST compensation. State Finance Minister K N Balagopal met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and presented the demand.
The state government has asked the Centre to increase the ad-hoc borrowing limit by 1% above the prescribed limit for the 2023-24 financial year, besides demanding an extension for GST compensation.
The government of Kerala has been accusing the Union government of reducing the borrowing limit by including the loans of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and Welfare Pension Board in the public accounts. Further, the CPI(M)-led government has been highlighting the reduction in the allocation of funds as per the recommendations of the 15th finance commission as one of the reasons for the financial crisis faced by the state.
DISCUSSION ON THE SILVERLINE PROJECT TO RESUME?
Even though the LDF government never formally announced that it is dropping the semi-high-speed rail services from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod, the discussion had been stagnant in recent months. An alternative proposal submitted by E Sreedharan suggested that the construction occur in elevated corridors or underground.
The proposal by the famed railway engineer is for building a semi-high speed line initially and gradual upgradation to high-speed service from Thiruvananthapuram to Kannur.
With the proposal handed over to the government of Kerala’s special representative in Delhi, K V Thomas, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has relaunched an offensive. The Anti-Silverline Committee has also announced that August 8 – the day when the Quit India Movement was launched in 1942 – will be observed as ‘Quit K-Rail’ day.
The government was forced to refrain from carrying out surveys and laying fencing stones after stiff opposition from the UDF, BJP, and some quarters due to the fear of displacement and environmental impact.
'MORE THRUST ON WORK NEAR HOME'
The LDF government through the local self-governance departments (LSGD) has decided to expand the concept of ‘Work Near Home’ facilities across the state. The government has also invited the private sector to participate in the process of creating new centres in their neighbourhoods.
The ‘Kerala Knowledge Commission’ will set up the centres in rented buildings under the different LSGs, with facilities including round-the-clock electricity connection, high-speed internet and other essential amenities.
The idea was thrown up after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the beginning of a new era of ‘Work from Home’ for people in IT and related industries.
CONGRESS HOLDS SILENT PROTEST
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) held a day-long ‘silent protest’ in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi on the disqualification case relating to his comments on the Modi surname. The protest was held after the Gujarat High Court refused to stay the sessions court verdict of two years’ imprisonment leading to the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as a member of parliament (MP).
The Congress leader has approached the Supreme Court with an appeal against the verdict, even as the Parliament session is set to begin on July 20. The Congress party has been accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling dispensation of targeting Rahul Gandhi after his recent yatra from Kanniyakumari to Kashmir.
The Election Commission of India is yet to announce the vacancy created in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala following the disqualification.
GRANT OF APPROVAL FOR COPRA PROCUREMENT
After incessant representation from the LDF government, the Union government has granted approval for Copra procurement in the state. The minister for Agriculture P Prasad had to meet the Union agriculture minister to get the nod even as the prices for ball copra were falling.
The Centre has excluded the Kerala State Cooperative Federation for Coconut Farming (KERAFED) from procuring copra, considered to be a major setback to the coconut farmers.
ACCUSED SENTENCED IN ‘HAND-CHOPPING’ CASE
In the hand-chopping case pertaining to Prof T N Joseph, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court has sentenced three accused to life imprisonment and three others to three years. The Popular Front of India (PFI) activists had chopped off the hand of Prof Joseph who was working at Newman College, Thodupuzha, in Idukki district in 2010.
The prime accused who chopped off the wrist is still absconding, while the NIA special court has sentenced Sajil, Nasar and Najeeb, the second, third and fifth convicts respectively to life. P P Moideen Kunju, M K Naushad and P M Ayoob were sentenced to three years.
The attack was carried out after an allegedly derogatory question on Islam was included in the question paper for the B Com examination held in the college.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.