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CEO FORUM 2020 - 1st Breakfast Meeting | Inaugural Session

Rebuild Kerala Initiative




08.00hrs - 10.00hrs


Anchor Hall, Taj Gateway Hotel, Ernakulam


10th January 2020


The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Fifth Edition of the CEO Forum Breakfast Meetings was inaugurated on the 10th January 2020 at Hotel Taj Gateway, Ernakulam.


Dr. Venu V, I.A.S, Principal Secretary, Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Government of Kerala, was the Chief Guest on the occasion and  inaugurated the Fifth Edition by lighting the traditional lamp. He also delivered the first talk of the year. Dr. Venu, who, in addition to his responsibilities as Revenue Secretary is also the CEO of the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, spoke on the Government’s vision behind the ‘Rebuild Kerala Initiative.’


Following the Welcome Address by the President, Dr. Venu released the Chamber Voice, a bi-monthly print version of the newsletter which includes information regarding the Chamber events, business news, articles, etc.


The official Cochin Chamber app through which the members can stay updated with the happenings around the Chamber was also released during the event.


Ms. Nisha Menon, Director - Tax, PwC, India gave some "Quick Bytes" on E-invoicing under the GST. PricewaterhouseCoopers India is the Knowledge Partner for the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


The forum discussed the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, which is aimed at building a green and resilient Kerala. Dr. Venu addressed the forum that the focus of Rebuild Kerala Initiative is to increase the State’s institutional and financial capacity to protect the assets and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable groups through an inclusive and participatory approach. He shared his experiences as the Tourism Secretary and expressed his pleasure being part of the growth story of Kerala’s tourism. He pointed out the fact that most of the credit that our State gets for developments in the tourism sector is by virtue of the energy and drive of the private sector. Dr. Venu mentioned the Government’s plans on reopening the Bastian Bungalow and redesigning of the Hill Palace Museum which boasts the cultural heritage of Cochin. 

Dr. Venu said that the Rebuild Kerala Initiative is being carried out in a mission mode adopting the latest technologies. Eco-friendly building strategies, learning to live with floods, etc. are the key ingredients of this initiative. The aim is to not restore what was in existence before the flood but to build a new Kerala which will be resilient to any possible natural disasters in the future. The main strength of implementing the rebuilding initiative is the people’s participation. A vibrant civil society that sinks differences and springs into action in times of crisis was a case study across the world, he said. Dr. Venu mentioned about the Chief Minister of Kerala’s initiative of forming a Volunteer Force of around 3.5 lakhs who are well equipped to help with the relief drive when and as the crisis hits. 


Dr. Venu said that a total of 3.5 lakhs houses were partially damaged and 19000 houses were fully damaged in the floods of 2018. With the support of Government, industry, NGOs and local sponsors, 15000-16000 houses are either completed or nearing completion. He thanked the efforts of the Government and the generosity of the people who contributed to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund which helped in the recovery. 


Dr. Venu requested industry to come forward with ideas and new ways that can contribute to the Rebuild Kerala Initiative. He also expressed his gratitude to the industry players who played a crucial role in placing Kerala on the international tourism map. Dr. Venu, who also served as the Director and Secretary of Kerala Tourism Department, said that the industry stakeholders are to be applauded for building a good partnership model. He then proceeded to explain the relief activities undertaken by the Kerala Government post the 2018 and 2019 floods. He pointed out that the Rebuild Kerala Initiative (RKI) was born out of the vision that floods should be taken as “a challenge and an opportunity to rebuild the State to ensure better standards of living to all sections of the society”. Sustained efforts from various Departments have resulted in funding promises from agencies like World Bank, KfW etc. The Government of Kerala approved the Rebuild Kerala Development Programme (RKDP) after adopting a top down approach where stakeholders were consulted after finalisation of the draft version. Realising the importance of placing stakeholders centre stage of the rebuilding process, the Rebuild Kerala Initiative has adopted a bottom-up approach by launching  the Nammal Nammukayi campaign to crowdsource solutions. The initiative will undertake extensive consultations online( portal- ) and offline (events). These inputs will drive the Government’s approach to ‘Build Back Better’ an invigorated Kerala with greater resilience and resistance to future shocks. The Nammal Nammukayi campaign seeks to consult everyone who wish to be consulted. Thus, the Rebuild Kerala Initiative seeks to ensure a participatory module for building an eco-sensitive development framework in Kerala. The Government of Kerala is exploring the possibility of convening a special session of the Kerala Legislative Assembly to discuss and deliberate on the rebuilding process. Dr. Venu also commended and appreciated the briefing that was submitted by the Chamber in October 2019 to supplement the Government’s efforts in rebuilding the State.


Quoting the example of officers in the Irrigation Department, he insisted on the need for coordination between various Departments. Working in silos has resulted in delays and inefficiency in the delivery of public projects. This needs to be addressed, he said. Referring to the flash floods that hit Kochi in October 2019, Dr. Venu highlighted the problem of encroachers endangering the lives of citizens. 


Responding to a query raised by the Chamber President Mr. Venugopal, Dr. Venu said that the Government will consider the Chamber’s request to revisit the Kerala Land Reforms in its 50th anniversary through consultation events.


Mr. Venugopal C Govind, Past President of the Chamber presented a Memento to Dr. Venu.


Mr. K Harikumar, Vice President of the Chamber proposed the Vote of Thanks.