During a free-wheeling interaction with IANS journalists, Kerala
Chief Minister Ooman Chandy said his
government will soon apply its mind on the issue of promoting the
concept of Islamic banking in the state, which believes in sharing
profits and bans levy of interest, to fund infrastructure.
In February this year, the Kerala High Court had given a green
signal to Al Baraka, a company registered under the tenets of
Sharia with investment from a state-run firm, to operate a
financial institution based on the principles of Islamic banking.
The state hoped to rope in funds from institutions that follow the
"That proposal was there during the previous government. We have
not decided on further things. But we have also not given up.
Within this short period of our regime, we had not applied our
minds. But we will pursue it," Chandy said to IANS
journalists during a visit to the agency's head office here Monday
Muslims constitute 24-25 percent of Kerala's 32 million
Chief Minister Ooman Chandy also
said Kerala has
not given up on a proposal to start an airline of its own,
particularly to provide low-cost options to its vast diaspora in
the Gulf, and will soon pursue this with the central government.
"We are at the moment concentrating on our fourth international
airport at Kannur. Once that is done, we will pursue the airline
option. We have not given up on the idea of a low-cost carrier,"
"We have also brought down the minimum level of investment in the
Kannur airport project to Rs.50,000 from Rs.200,100 for individual
investors," Chandy, who assumed office for the second time on May
18 said, adding this was a major request among many investors.
The project, under public-private partnership, is being set up by
a consortium in which 26 percent of the equity is with the
government, 23 percent with public sector units, two percent with
other institutions and the remaining 49 percent with private
The airport is expected to cater to an annual traffic of more than
one million international passengers and 300,000 domestic
passengers as per 2009-2010 estimates and will also serve as an
air cargo hub for perishables like flowers, vegetables, fruit and
Home to idyllic beaches, Kannur in the northern part of Kerala is
among 10 best cities in India to live in, as per research firm
Indicus Analytics, and 13 percent of its population is employed
overseas. The project is coming up on a 2,000-acre area and
expected to start operations in 2013.
Kerala currently has international airports at Thiruvananthapuram,
Kochi and Kozhikode. Kerala has around four million of its
diaspora living outside and the bulk of them reside in the Gulf
Speaking about the airline project, Chandy said the previous
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had posed three
conditions for overseas operations -- a fleet of five planes, five
years of domestic operations and no operations to the Gulf.
"We said Air India Express with just two planes was allowed.
Within three months, it got permission to fly to the Gulf. They
said it is an Air India subsidiary. We said, okay we accept, but
you also have to accept this -- this is a state government
airline," Chandy said.