Monday, May 9, 2011

Kerala-god’s own country

 Kerala-god’s own country

Area : 38,863 sq km
Population : 31,841,374
Capital : Thiruvananthapuram
Principal Languages : Malayalam

History and Geography

Kerala is in the extreme south-west of the Indian subcontinent. When the independent India amalgamated small states together Travancore and Cochin states were integrated to form Travancore-Cochin state on 1 July, 1949. However, Malabar remained under the Madras province. Under the State’s reorganisation Act-1956, Travancore-Cochin state and Malabar were united to form Kerala State on 1 November, 1956.
Kerala’s culture has been an integral part of the mainstream of Indian culture. In between the high Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west, the width of the state varies from 35 km to 120 km. According to the geographical features, the State can be divided into hills, valleys, midland plains and costal belt. Kerala is rich in rivers and backwaters. 44 rivers (41 west flowing and 3 east flowing) cut across Kerala with their innumerable tributaries and benches. The backwaters form an attractive and economically valuable feature of Kerala.

A unique feature of the state is the Predominance of cash crops. About 50 per cent of the population depends on agriculture. Kerala is a major producer of coconut, rubber, pepper, cardamom, ginger, cocoa, cashew, aracanut, coffee and tea. Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc., are also cultivated. Rice and Tapioca are the important food crops. The average annual decline in area under rice during the Eight Five-Year plan was around 22,000 ha, whereas it has come down to an average of 13,000 ha during the Ninth Plan period. However during 2004-05 a slight increase in area was recorded by 2634 ha from 2.87 lakh ha in 2003-04 to 2.90 lakh ha and rice production increased form 5.70 lakh MT to 6.67 lakh MT, an increase of 17 per cent during this period compared to a reduction of 17 per cent in 2003-04 with that of 2002-2003.
The unprecedented drought in recent years has contributed to the decline of Paddy production during 2003-04 which was reversed in 2004-05. During 2004-05 maximum increase in rice production was recorded in Allappuzha (+75 per cent) and Palakkad (+37 per cent) compared to previous year.
Coconut is the most important cash crop of Kerala with a coverage of 9 lakhs ha. Coconut occupies 41 per cent of net cropped area and provides lively hood to over 3.5 million families. Production declined by 2.5 per cent in 2004- 05 compared to the previous year. The average productivity has also slightly declined in 2004-05 by 2.5 per cent to 6379 nuts/ha compared to 2003-04.
Pepper is one of the major export oriented commodities in which the state continuous to enjoy a near monopoly in area and production. The productivity of pepper recorded during 2004 – 05 was only 327 kg. per ha. The production declined form 69015 MT during 2003-04 to 68362MT in 2004-05. Pepper produced in Kerala fetches a premium price in International Market in view of its intrinsic quality.
Kerala has a substantial share in the four plantation crops of rubber, coffee, tea and cardamom. The four crops together occupy 6.42 lakh ha accounting for 29 per cent of the net cropped area in the state and 42 per cent of the area in the country.
Kerala accounts for 83 per cent of area under rubber in the country. The coverage under crop in 2004-05 was 4.81 lakh ha higher by 2141 ha, over the previous year. The production of natural rubber in Kerala during the year was 6.91 lakh tonnes indicating a 5 per cent increase over the previous year. The increasing trend in productivity continued during 2004-05.
The area under coffee in Kerala was 0.846 lakh ha, out of 3.28 lakh ha in the country during 2004-05 which works out to 26 per cent. The share of Kerala in production is 19.7 per cent during 2004-05. Production of coffee during the year was only 0.54 lakh MT against 2.75 lakh MT for the country.Against the total area of 5.11 lakh ha under tea in the country Kerala accounts for only 0.37 lakh ha. In respect of production the share of Kerala declined to 6 per cent in 2004 from 7 per cent in the previous year. Tea plantation owned by big companies employee a labour force of over 84,000 in the organised sector.
The share of Kerala in the production of cardamom at the national level also increased from 28 per cent to 76 per cent in 2004-05.
Kerala is rich in industrial potentialities and infrastructure facilities such as hydro-electric power, rich forests, rare minerals and the efficient system of transport and communications. Traditional industries are handloom, cashew, coir and handicrafts, other important industries are rubber, tea, ceramics, electric and electronic appliances, telephone cables, transformers, bricks and tiles, drugs and chemicals, general engineering, plywood splints and veneers, beedi and cigar, soaps, oils, fertilizers and khadi and village industry products. There are a number of manufacturing units for production of precision instruments, machine tools, petroleum products, paints, pulp paper, newsprint, glass and non-ferrous metals. Principal export products are cashew nut, tea, coffee, spices, lemon grass oil, sea foods, rose wood and coir. The state has an abundance of important minerals like ilmenite, rutile, monozite, zircon,
sillimanite, clay and quartz sand.
The performance in the industrial export of almost all major products recorded positive growth. Software exports increased by around 66 per cent from Rs. 240 crore in 2003-04 to 400 crore in 2004-05. The number of industrial disputes pending is 2658 by 2004-05 which is lower than in 2003-04. The number of strikes and lockouts during 2004-05 decreased compared to 2003-
In Kerala 14655 joint stock companies were working as on 31 March 2005 which includes 13210 private limited and 1445 public limited companies. Kerala has the largest number of PSUs in India (113 out of 1071) which employ 1,15,697 persons, of these 63 manufacturing units are classified under chemical engineering, electrical equipment, textiles, electronic, ceramics, infrastructure, agro and wood based sectors. There has been an improvement in the overall profitability of public sector units under the Industries Department in 2004-05.
The Government of Kerala assists, industrial units by providing financial assistance, infrastructure and training / consultancy services. The important agencies/departments engaged in industrial promotion are KFC, KSIDC, SIDBI, KINFRA, Directorate of Industries and Commerce, SIDC, SISI, KITCO & CMD.
The Directorate of Industries and Commerce provides infrastructure facilities for small-scale sector by acquiring land and developing it into developmental area/plots with facilities like developed land, road, water supply, electricity, necessary building, etc. The Small Industries Development Corporation also undertakes works on provision of infrastructure facilities for the small-scale sector through its major industrial estate and mini industrial estates.
One of the major thrust areas for export promotion has been the Special Economic Zone. The scheme intends to set up Special Economic Zone in the country with a view to provide an internationally competitive and hassle free environment for exports. Kochi is the only city in India having three Special Economic Zones – Electronic Parks at KINFRA in Kalamassery, Cochin SEZs, Port Based SEZ. Other SEZs – Malappuram Food Park, Technopark, proposed SEZ – Thiruvananthapuram Apparel Park, Film and Video Park, Animation SEZ (First Animation SEZ in India).
The small-scale industrial sector is one of the most dynamic and vibrant sectors in the Indian economy in terms of employment generation. The Small scale industrial unit registered in Kerala as on 31 March 2005 was 280584 with an investment of Rs. 4230.03 crore and an employment to 12,60,007 persons. During 2004-05, 4935 units with an investment of Rs. 198.63 crore providing employment to 22585 persons were registered.
The Government of Kerala has drawn up an investment promotion programme named as Kerala Local Industry Promotion Programme (KLIPP) under the banner name of PRATHYASA through District Industries Centre. The objective of the scheme is to facilitate the setting up of 25,000 units in the small scale sector generating to 1,00,000 employment during 2005-06.
Information Technology
Information technology and the ability to use it is increasingly being considered as the critical factor in generating and accessing wealth, power and knowledge and therefore Societal Welfare. The Government of Kerala has taken several steps for the development of IT in the State. Prominent among them are: (1) Technopark – Thiruvananthapuram – India’s first World Class, World – Scale – IT campus. (2.) IT Park at KINFRA at Kochi. (3) Akshaya Programme of Kerala IT Mission. (4) E-Governance initiatives of State Government like FRIENDS
Technopark was conceived as an integrated IT environment with all necessary basic and enhanced infrastructural facilities that the industry need. It acts as a single-point contact for the most of the Government of India clearances and approvals. Technopark got ISO 9001 : 2000 Certification in 2004 for establishing and maintaining a quality system for creation and marketing of infrastructure and support services for IT campus. It is a first service organisation which has been awarded CMMI level 4 certification by Carnegie Mellon University, USA in 2004.
Today the campus is host to about 84 international and domestic companies with an investment of Rs. 634.25 crore. During 2004-05 acquisition of land was carried out for further expansion of the existing campus. 86 acres of land has been already acquired and the proceedings for taking advance possession are in progress. The new campus of Technopark (86 Acres) is declared by Central Government as Special Economic Zone.
The Info Park at Kochi is a 92 acre Park with a built-up area of 3.5 lakh sq. ft. Major companies like WIPRO, OPI, ACS, IBS and TCS commenced operations in Info Park. 1400 employees are currently engaged in Infopark facilities. The total investment of the company is Rs. 80.43 crore. The total export for Infopark companies is Rs. 32 crore.
Kerala has been selected as 2nd best state in India in implementation of egovernance. FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Efficient Network for disbursement Service) is a “Single Window Mechanism” where citizens have the opportunity to pay all taxes and other financial dues to the Government.
E-pay is an online bill payment facility introduced by Government of Kerala through Akshaya e-kendras as an extension of FRIENDS project in Malappuram District during August 2004.
The citizen call centre first of its kind in the country setup in the state capital provide information on transactions, pertaining to various government departments which are required by common citizens over telephone.
Keeping in line with National Approach Kerala also relied upon surface water irrigation system operating the gravitational force for distribution. A major chunk of the outlay on water resources sector was earmarked for major and medium irrigation. Out of a cumulative investment of Rs. 3572.40 crore made as on March 2005, Rs. 2462.51 crore (69 per cent) was for major and medium irrigation.
The irrigation system in Kerala is serviced through major, medium and minor irrigation as well as ground water and command area development programmes. The completed major irrigation projects are Malampuzha, Chalakkudy, Peechi, Pampa, Periyar, Chittorpuzha, Kuttiyadi, Neyyar, Chimmini, Pazhassi, Kanjirapuzha and Kallada and the medium projects are Pothundy, Gayathri, Walayar, Vazhani, Mangalam and Cheerakuzhi. Construction works of four major projects Muvattupuzha, Idamalayar, Karapuzha, Kuriarkuty – Karappara and the medium projects Banasurasagar, Bridge-cum-regulator at Thrithala and Chammaravattom are in progress.
In Kerala an outlay of Rs. 930 crore is set apart for irrigation sector during 10th plan period which includes Rs. 600 crore for major and medium irrigation, Rs. 205 crore for minor irrigation for Rs. 50 crore for Flood Control and Anti-Sea Erosion work. During the first three years of plan period an amount of Rs. 435.95 crore was budgeted and expenditure for the period was Rs. 494.63 crore. The major portion of the outlay on water resources sector was earmarked for major and medium irrigation projects.
The Command Area Development programme was launched with the main objective of bridging the gap between the irrigation potential created and utilised and improving agriculture production and productivity in the irrigation commands. The programme was restructured in 2003-04 and re-named as Command Area Development and Water Management Programme.
The main activities of Command Area Development Authority (CADA) include construction of field channels, field drains, enforcement of wara bandhi and reclamation of Water logged areas. The CAD activities were carried out in 16 completed irrigation projects, namely, Malampuzha, Mangalam, Pothundy, Walayar, Cheerakuzhy, Vazhani, Peechi, Chalakkudy, Neyyar, Gayatri, Pampa, Periyar Valley, Chitturpuzha, Kuttiyadi, Pazhachi and Kanjirapuzha with a total ayacut of 2.03 lakh ha. CADA programmes are implemented with financial assistance of Govt. of India. The achievement recorded during 2004-05 include construction of field channels in 1998 ha, drains to benefit 6156 ha, adaptive trials in 10ha, 83 training programmes, bench mark and evaluation studies in 2302 ha. The work on reclamation of water locked areas were done in 1033 ha and 3 evaluation reports were also published.
The growth of power sector in Kerala during the last two decades has been remarkable. During the early stages of development, focus was on tapping hydro power potential in the state. Kerala Power System consists of 30 power generating stations which include 24 hydel, 5 thermal and one wind of which KSEB owns 24 hydel and one wind and two thermal stations.
The total installed capacity in Kerala as on 31 March 2005 is estimated as 2617.22 MW of which KSEB’s hydel plants contribute 1810.60 MW, Wind farm at Kanchikode 2.0 MW and Thermal Power Plants 234.60 MW.
Malankara Hydro Electric Project was commissioned on 23 October 2005. As a result the installed capacity has been increased by 10.5 MW.
Under the micro-hydel programme, implementation of Micro Hydel Projects on behalf of two district Panchayats, Kammadi in Kasargode district and Chakkarakundu in Kozhikode district have been undertaken by ANERT. UNIDO has set up a Regional Centre on small hydro power at Energy Management Centre. The centre has prepared detailed project reports for 30 small hydro projects in Kerala. Of which 13 small hydro project were allotted to bidders under Captive Power Projects and Independent Power Projects on BOOT basis. The first off grid 100 KW micro hydel power projects was commissioned in Mankulam, Iduki District. Pasavaikumbe in Kasargode district and Kalyanathandu in Idukki district are two sites identified for study under the National Wind Energy Resource Assessment.
In the light of launching the project, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyuteekaran Yojana (RGGVY) by the Government of India, proposals were submitted to the Government of India with an outlay Rs. 348.79 crore for the electrification of 3578 habitations in 930 villages covering 14 districts of Kerala. The Government of India have sanctioned Rs. 221.75 crore to implement the scheme as first phase covering seven districts in Kerala viz. Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Idukki, and Palakkad.
Transport system of the state consists of 1.54 lakh km of Road, 1148 km of Railways 1687 km of Inland Water Ways and 111 statute miles of Airways and 18 ports.
Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) launched in June 2002 with the assistance of World Bank is in the process of upgrading and widening of 584 km of existing roads and carrying out heavy maintenance of 993 km of roads and150 km of performance linked maintenance. Upgradation of 93 km of inland water canals also forms part of the project.
Roads : Kerala is the maiden state in the country having hundred per cent road axis to its remote villages. The total length of roads in the state is 138196.471 km, of which 21467.492 km comes under PWD, 1523.954 km under National Highways, and 95515.888 km under Panchayats.
Railway : The state has a total railway route of 1,148 km and covers 13 railway routes. It has 1,053.86 km of broad gauge lines and 94.14 km of meter gauge lines.
Aviation : There are three airports, viz., Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi (Nedumbassery) and Kozhikode, of which the first two are international airports.
Ports Sector : Along its coastline of 585 km Kerala has one major port at Kochi and 17 minor intermediate ports. The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal on 16 December 2005. Completion of the prestigious project would make the Kochi Port as a major hubport in the Indian Ocean.
Kerala has achieved a high literacy rate of 90.92 per cent (2001 census), as against the all India rate of 65.38 per cent. In Kerala, among the districts, Kottayam has the highest literacy rate of 95.90 per cent and Palakkad has the lowest literacy of 84.31 per cent. Regional and gender disparities in literacy rates are least in Kerala.
The infrastructure created under District Primary Education programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and involvement of Local Governments have contributed to the improved facilities.
Kerala has seven universities and two deemed universities. During the past five years, there has been a tremendous increase of technical educational institutions in Kerala.
Kerala is the home of many colourful festivals. Most of them have a religious fervour inspired by Hindu mythology. Onam is the most typical of Kerala festivals, which coincides with the harvest season. It is now celebrated on astronomical New Year Day. Navarathri is celebrated as Saraswathi Pooja in Kerala. Maha Shivarathri is celebrated on the banks of Periyar River as a spectacular festival, which is compared to Kumbhamela. The 41 days festival, which coincides with Makaravilakku in Sabarimala Ayyappan temple, attracts lakhs of people from India and abroad. The Vallamkali or boat race is typical of Kerala. All the boat festivals have a religious origin except Nehru Trophy Boat race conducted in the Punnamada Lake. Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur celebrates Pooram festivals in April every year with an impressive procession of caparisoned elephants and display of unparalleled pyrotechnics. Main Christian festivals are Christmas and Easter. Maramon convention, held every year on the Pumba riverbed, is the biggest gathering of Christians in Asia. The Muslims celebrate Milade Shareef, Ramzan fasting, Id ul Fitr and Bakr-id.
Tourism to Kerala is what apple growing is to Himachal Pradesh. Both these regions offer all the pre-conditions for sustained and successful growth of the respective activities. The factors stimulating a flourishing tourism sector include, scenic splendour, moderate climate, clean environment, friendly and peace loving people with high tolerance for cultural diversity and the potential for creating unique tourism products.
Kerala has emerged as the most acclaimed tourist destination in the country. Beaches, warm weather, back waters, hill stations, water falls, wild life, Ayurveda, year–round festivals and diverse flora and fauna make Kerala a unique destination for tourists.
The Department of Tourism, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, District Tourism Promotion Council, Bakal Tourism Development Corporation, Local Government and Private Sector are the major players in the field. The thrust areas presently being looked into are for the development of village tourism, MICE tourism (meeting, incentives, conventions and events/ exhibitions/trade shows), heritage tourism, eco-tourism and medical tourism.
Thenmala Eco-Tourism project features a tourist facilitation centre, shop court garden, plazas, picnic area, natural trail, rock climbing, river crossing amphi theatre, restaurant, suspension bridge, lotus pond, musical dancing fountain, sculpture garden, deer rehabilitation centre, boating, battery powered vehicles, etc. During 2004-05, 104622 tourists visited Thenmala and the revenue generated was Rs. 3563820.
The foreign exchange earning from tourism during 2004 is Rs. 1266.77 crore. The earning from domestic tourists during 2004 is Rs. 3881.92 crore. Total revenue generated from tourism directly and indirectly in the state are worked out as about Rs. 6829 crore. Tourism employs about 8 lakh persons in the state. The investment in tourism is about Rs. 500 crore per year.
According to 2001 census, the literacy rate in Kerala is well above the National average and it is the highest among the Indian States. The literacy rate in Kerala is 90.86 per cent in 2001 as against the all India rate of 65.38 per cent The male and female literacy rate are 94.2 per cent and 87.6 per cent respectively.
In Kerala there are 12650 schools in 2005 comprising of 6827 lower primary schools, 3042 upper primary schools and 2781 high schools. Besides there are 483 CBSE School, 78 ICSE Schools, 27 Kendriya Vidyalayas and 13 Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalayas.
The aided school system still keeps strong presence in Kerala. Out of the total 12650 schools 7287 are private aided schools (57.60 per cent). Of the total 3042 UP schools 31.36 per cent are in Government sector, 61.47 per cent in private aided sector and the rest 7.17 per cent are in private unaided sector. Of the total 2781 high schools 35.78 per cent are government, 51.17 per cent are private aided and 13.05 per cent are private unaided.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the most ambitious educational project since independence aims to provide useful and relevant elementary education for all children in the age group 6 to 14 by 2010.
The number of protected teachers both in Government and Aided schools stood at 3148 during 2004-05. It includes 524 High school teachers, 1904 PD teachers and 720 special teachers.
The number of protected teachers both in Government and Aided schools stood at 3148 during 2004-05. It includes 524 High school teachers, 1904 PD teachers and 720 special teachers.
In order to reorganise secondary level of education in accordance with the National Educational Policy Higher Secondary course was introduced in the state. As a first step during 1990-91, 31 government schools were upgraded to the status of Higher Secondary Schools. Grading system of evaluation has been introduced in Higher secondary levels from 2005-06 academic year onwards.
Vocational Higher Secondary Education was introduced in the state with the objective of maximum achievement of employment opportunity by making more skillful and job oriented manpower. As a first step, the course was introduced in 19 government high schools during 1983-84. The sanctioned intake and actual enrolment in VHSS during 2004-05 are 26874 and 25382 respectively.
Kerala Higher Education System comprises of 7 universities and two deemed universities. Universities in Kerala now shift emphasis from conventional courses to professional and technical job oriented courses. Most of the new courses are self-financing. The two major sources of income for universities in Kerala are plan and non-plan grants provided to them by the state government. The plan and non plan expenditure of the universities during 2003-04 was Rs. 11014.6 lakhs. It increased to 12858.1 lakh during 2004- 05.
Kerala has achieved very good health standards in areas like birth rate, death rate, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, average life at birth and immunisation. In Kerala birth rate is 16.90, death rate – 6.40, IMR – 10 and MMR – 0.87 per thousand population. Though Kerala has attained better health care indicators, the people are now facing the problem of high morbidity both from communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Kerala’s health care system consists of Allopathy, Ayurveda and Homoeopathy. Three systems of medicines together have 2696 institutions in government sector. The three systems together have 48834 beds in the Government Sector. Kerala has almost attained universalisation of immunisation. During 2004-05, the coverage of BCG was 104.3 per cent. Data collected from RCC shows that more patients treated for cancer are in the age group of 55 to 64 years. The first HIV positive case was identified in Kerala in 1987.
Kerala spends fairly substantial amount on medical and public health which is evident from percapita government health expenditure.
Drinking Water Supply
In Kerala 82.59 per cent urban and 62.24 per cent rural population have been covered by piped water supply by 2004-05. The overall water supply coverage is 67.52 per cent as against 65.2 per cent during 2003-04. The rural – urban coverage during 2003-04 was 60 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. During 2004-05 additional population covered with protected water supply was 7.43 lakh. Out of it 66887 (9 per cent) were Scheduled Caste and 8175 (1 per cent) were Scheduled Tribe Population.
Kerala Water Authority has 1895 water supply schemes in operation as on 1 April 2005. It consists of 65 urban schemes, 952 Rural Multi Panchayat schemes and 878 Rural Single Panchayat Schemes. During 2004-05, 40 schemes have been commissioned, of which 6 are urban and 34 of Rural. Government of Kerala has taken up 2 water supply projects with external assistance they are (1) JBIC Assisted Kerala Water Supply Project and (2) World Bank aided Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (Jalanidhi).
Poverty Eradication
  Kerala is seeking to achieve a breakthrough in participatory poverty reduction through local government and Kudumbasree Programmes implemented by State Poverty Eradiation Mission. As per the NSSO 55th round, (1999-2000). Kerala’s poverty is 9.35 per cent in rural areas and 20.27 per cent in urban areas. The 1999-2000 data shows Kerala’s Poverty at 12.72 per cent against all India rate of 26.30 per cent. Kudumbasree System facilitates microlevel interventions to reduce poverty and accurately monitor poverty reduction initiatives where it happens. An innovative extension of this programme called ‘ASRAYA’ has been implemented in about one third of Kerala to provide community based social security to the poorest of the poor.

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