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Shashi Tharoor: We have lost 64 sq km of coast here alone

Updated on: 16 April,2024 04:57 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor contesting from Thiruvananthapuram lists state Vs Centre ping pong on coastal erosion as key poll plank

Shashi Tharoor: We have lost 64 sq km of coast here alone

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, is contesting from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram

I feel betrayed as the Centre has been making big promises to Kerala and not delivering on them,” said senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, on Monday. He is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram. The MP added that the state had lost over 64 sq km of ‘Bharat Bhoomi’ to soil erosion. Tharoor added that be it establishing an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and National University for Ayurveda or upgrading the National Institute for Speech and Hearing, no promises had been fulfilled.

‘Centre not playing fair’

Asked what issue has hurt the people and continues to pose a challenge in the state, Tharoor said, “The state has a number of serious challenges. As far as federalism is concerned, there is a perception that the Centre is not playing fair with the state. The Left used to harp on that, but instead of making that an issue in this election campaign, they are actually focusing only on attacking me and attacking the United Democratic Front, I do not understand the logic of that, but that is one perception.”

‘Coastal erosion issue’

Tharoor said there were two of issues where he felt betrayed by the state, the first being soil erosion. “For a dozen years, I have been bringing to the attention of Parliament, the ministers and even of the Prime Minister that we have lost 64 sq km of our Bharat Mata’s Bhoomi from our beaches, in this constituency  [Thiruvananthapuram] alone,” he said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at a campaign event on Monday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at a campaign event on Monday. Pic/Atul Kamble

“Had that amount of land been taken by a foreign country, the whole nation would be prepared to go to war, but when it is taken by the sea, because of sea erosion, there is absolutely no willingness, to spend any money to do the basic elementary things required to save coastlines such as building seawalls and groynes, which is something that the next-door state Tamil Nadu has successfully done. But here the state government claims that it has no money and the Central government says it is not its problem and that shoreline protection is the responsibility of the state. So, between the back and forth between the two nothing has moved; the shoreline is steadily eroded, and that to my mind is a major betrayal.”

Unkept promises

Elaborating on the “second betrayal”, Tharoor said the BJP government in past 10 years had made only three promises to Kerala but it broke all of them. “I am not talking of the general nationwide yojanas, which all came everywhere and they also came to Kerala. Specific promises made to Kerala are all broken. They [Centre] promised an AIIMS. No AIIMS has come. Second, they promised a National University for Ayurveda; in fact, the AYUSH minister himself came and said this in his speech in Thiruvananthapuram. I am sorry to say, when they created the National University for Ayurveda, they put that in Gujarat,” 
said Tharoor.

“Third, there is a National Institute for Speech and Hearing for those who have challenges in speaking and hearing, to study, in Thiruvananthapuram. I had requested that it should be upgraded to a national university. My request was accepted by the BJP government. In 2015-2016, they included this in their budget and mentioned in their budget speech that they would upgrade the institute. What happened? They did not fulfil that promise. For years, I kept reminding them, and then they went and created a national university in the North East.”

‘Not an encouraging message’
“This kind of situation means that the only ‘Modi guarantee’ we have got here is that the BJP government breaks any promise that they made to Kerala. That is not exactly an encouraging message from the BJP to the voters of Kerala,” Tharoor concluded. 

No of Lok Sabha seats in Kerala

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