Rubber import: LDF stages walk-out in Kerala assembly

Kerala map
Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 19: CPI(M)-led LDF opposition staged a walk-out in the Kerala Assembly today (Jul 19) protesting the Centre's decision to import natural rubber, arguing the move would lead to sharp fall in price of domestic produce and hit 12 lakh farmers in Kerala, country's largest rubber producer.

Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the UDF Government was also concerned on the issue, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan trooped the LDF members out of the House accusing the ruling side of taking the issue rather lightly.

The matter was raised by K Suresh Kurup (CPI-M), seeking an adjournment motion. Speaker G Karthikeyan, however,turned down the demand in the light of Chief Minister's reply.

Chandy said though the state did not get any official communication from the Centre on the matter, what it could learn was that clearance had been given to import 40,000 tons with 7.5 per cent as import duty. This was done on the ground that the demand of the industry,especially tyre manufacturers, outstripped the domestic production.

Kerala government's firm stand was that the Centre should refrain from any move that would harm the farmers. The state would convey its anxieties to the Centre, Chandy said.

Seeking leave for the motion earlier, Kurup said the decision would break the backbone of Kerala's agricultural economy as rubber was the only cash crop that fetched remunerative price.

As many as 12 lakh famrers depended on rubber and 92 per cent of them were small-holders, he said.

The price of natural rubber had already fallen rom Rs 216 to Rs 211 per Kg as soon as the Centre's decision came out in media.

This decision was taken without even consulting the Rubber Board as it was the result of pressure from the tyre lobby, which wanted to bring down the domesitc price by creating a market sensation, Kurup added.


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