By Ashraf Padanna/Thiruvananthapuram
A host of issues concerning the diaspora await the immediate attention of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The chief minister has kept the crucial ministry of Non-resident Keralite Affairs (Norka) and airports, while allocating portfolios, besides home, environment, information technology, airports and metros.
It means the timely completion of the Kannur airport, metro rail projects in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, the proposed airline and the SmartCity Kochi venture now rests on his shoulders. Under the previous Oommen Chandy administration, these departments came under three different ministers.
Expatriates also expect Vijayan to implement the promise of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) to set up an Expatriate Development Fund to finance industrial units which will provide employment to returnees qualified in different fields. The LDF had also promised an extensive rehabilitation package to be designed for expatriates returning for good.
With the federal government expressing its willingness to do away with 20X5 clause (five years of domestic flying experience and a fleet of 20 aircraft) for launching international services, the state needs to get ready with Air Kerala, a subsidiary of the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL).
Vijayan will soon take over as the chair of CIAL, which operates the country’s first corporate airport in which the state holds around 30% stake and Kannur International Airport Ltd, which has completed 60% of the construction works of the state’s fourth airport.
The previous government had also signed an agreement with the Railways to form a joint-venture for doubling the track capacity of the state and to run faster suburban trains.
In an interview carried by The Hindu on Friday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu reminded the new dispensation of the deal. He had earlier said he was looking forward to working with Vijayan on developing the railway network in the state by tapping external resources.
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