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Plantation Housing Scheme: Minister interacts with stakeholders

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Kochi: The Plantation Directorate will implement the state government’s Plantation Housing Scheme that has earmarked Rs 10 crore in the current financial year to build decent accommodations for the workers in the sector, Minister for Law, Industries and Coir Shri P. Rajeeve said on Tuesday.

As authorities have prepared a draft on providing subsidy to plantation owners who are improving the quarters of their labourers, the government is hopeful of issuing an order by June, he said, interacting with the growers in the sector.

The three-hour ‘Discussion on Plantation Housing Scheme’, presided over by the Minister, was organised in the city for the stakeholders in the sector to address top officials in the Department of Industries and Plantation Directorate.

Apart from efforts to renovate the houses of the plantation labourers, the government will also set up a single-window system with the intention of speeding up the use of five per cent of plantation land for other purposes. This will ease all practical issues of planters in securing permission for growing farm produce, medicinal plants, fruits, flowers and tourism related activities, Shri Rajeeve said.

At the meeting, which was held in the city against the backdrop of the recent permission to use five per cent of the state’s plantation sector for other purposes, the Minister said the single window will enable submission of applications from different departments. “We will try to ensure that the applications are processed in a time-bound manner,” he said. “The government will go for more concrete steps, once the ongoing IIM-Kozhikode study (to go for value addition and make Kerala plantations reach out to the global market) is over.”

To discuss and sort out issues regarding clearance of loans for the Housing Scheme, the government is facilitating a meeting of the SLBC (State-Level Bankers’ Committee), the Minister revealed, exhorting the planters to submit their requirements in a fortnight’s time. As for the various permissions, high-powered panels under the Revenue and Forest ministers will consider the memorandums from the planters, he added.

Shri Biju Prabhakar, Secretary, Department of Industries, emphasised the need to check increasing fragmentation of plantations and their conversion into other modes. “All the same, the stakeholders should be protected,” he said, also calling for “greater importance” to coffee.

Department of Industries and Commerce Director Shri S. Harikishore, who is Special Officer, Plantations, said the government’s upcoming initiative (for 2024-25) proposes three new schemes: plantation support, insurance and market support. A string of shows regarding plantations that the government held at major events in the country recently is a testimony to its efforts to reform the sector, he added.

Dr K.S. Kripakumar, Additional Director (T), Directorate of Industries and Commerce, briefed the delegates on the procedure to submit applications before the District Industries Centre for the housing scheme. An interim report will be submitted to the government this month, while the final will be submitted in May, he revealed.

Director of Plantations Deputy Director Shri Jose Thomas proposed thanks.

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