Congress-led opposition UDF members staged a walkout from the Kerala assembly over the government’s alleged failure to resolve the problems faced by over 2.50 lakh workers in the cashew sector.
The UDF sought to move an adjournment motion on the issue, saying most cashew units in public and private sector remained closed, pushing workers into virtual poverty.
However, with Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan disallowing the motion after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s reply rejecting the opposition’s charge, the UDF members trooped out of the house.
Earlier, Vijayan said efforts were on to reopen the closed private cashew units.
During the 2017-18, factories under the Kerala State Cashew Corporation and Kerala State Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Co-operative Society(APEX) provided jobs for 228 and 178 days respectively, he added.
Vijayan rejected the opposition’s charge that the workers were not getting medical treatment benefits of Employees State Insurance Corporation and said 82,000 workers under ESI were getting the benefits.
Steps have also been taken to expand cashew cultivation in the state to increase productivity, he said.
On the problems faced by small and medium scale private cashew factory owners, Vijayan said a meeting of stakeholders, including banks and RBI representatives, had decided to keep in abeyance all revenue recovery proceedings by banks on non-repayment of loans.
“A comprehensive revival package for cashew sector is under preparation.
Government is confident that it can usher a new atmosphere in the sector,” Vijayan added.
However, disputing the government claims, Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged that government had failed miserably in tackling the crisis in the cashew sector.
Of 820 cashew units, only 50 big factories in the private sector were now functioning, he said and demanded government immediately announce an interim relief of Rs 10,000 to cashew workers.
Chennithala alleged that even as workers in the sector were facing problems, both the government-run KSCDC and CAPEX had spent money for purchasing new cars.