Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet Wednesday unveiled sops for the diaspora by clearing a special housing scheme for them and also lowered the minimum amount for equity in the proposed Kannur airport to allow mid-income diaspora to invest in it.
Unveiling the new housing policy, Finance and Housing Minister K.M. Mani said it is a wrong notion that all the Kerala diaspora are rich.
'There are so many diaspora whose dream of owning a house is yet to materialise and for that we have launched a trial scheme in Thrissur exclusively for the diaspora. It has been proved a success with many diaspora joining it. This scheme will now be replicated in other districts for the benefit of the not-rich diaspora,' said Mani.
The nodal agency for implementing the housing policy is the Kerala State Housing Board (KSBH) which extends subsidies to all the allotees who buy flats and houses build by the KSHB.
'The diaspora will now get the benefit of subsidy. When it comes to allotment, the average diaspora would get the preference in exclusive schemes which will now be floated,' said Mani.
A recent study by the Centre for Development Studies here found that 2.1 million Keralites work abroad with close to 85 percent in the Middle East, and of these close to 70 percent are not in the rich category.
After the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that following repeated demands from several quarters, the government has decided to lower the minimum amount for acquiring equity in the proposed Kannur international airport from Rs.200,100 to Rs.50,000. 'This was a long standing demand that the minimum amount be reduced so as to help many who want to invest in the Kannur airport. This was first cleared at the board of the airport and today the cabinet accepted the demand,' said Chandy.
Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) has already been registered and the Rs.1,200 crore airport would be built under a public-private initiative in an area of 2,000 acres near here at Mattanur in Kannur district. It is expected to open in 2013.
There was a huge hue and cry from the diaspora when the previous Left government decided to fix the minimum amount at Rs.200,100 and when the Chandy government took over in May this year, they announced that they would ensure that even the ordinary diaspora can become an investor in Kannur airport.