The District Planning Committee (DPC) of the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat has approved projects worth Rs.121.70 crore for 2011-12, district panchayat president Remani P. Nair said here on Wednesday.

This included 543 new projects to be implemented in the service, health, infrastructure development, agriculture, production, and education sectors, Ms. Nair speaking at a press conference here.

Health was a top-priority sector this year with the district panchayat launching innovative schemes. Creating job opportunities for those with physical and mental challenges and facilitating the higher education of children with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were among the projects. Around Rs.50 lakh had been earmarked for the Mobile Dialysis Unit project to benefit those in the economically weaker sections, Ms. Nair said.

Around Rs.1.8 crore had been set apart for the development and modernisation of the Neyyattinkara district hospital. The ‘Santhwanam' palliative care project would get Rs.15 lakh. As much as Rs.10 lakh had been approved for a herbal therapy scheme for autistic children and Rs.22.5 lakh for the Cancer-free District scheme, she said.

“We have also formulated and received approval for special projects for the welfare of children. Our aim is to convert Thiruvananthapuram into a baby-friendly district,”' she said.

In the education sector, the district panchayat would implement infrastructure development projects for schools. Setting up of sanitary napkin wending machines and destroyers in select schools at a cost of Rs.10 lakh would be a major project. Three model schools would be set up in Venjaramoodu, Vellanad, and Punnmoodu at a cost of Rs.30 lakh. The district panchayat would help grama panchayats implement schemes in palliative care, and food security. BUDS schools, catering to the needs of children with special needs, would be promoted. (BUDS schools are run with the help of the State Social Security Mission and the Education Department). These schools would get vehicles as part of a Rs.80 lakh project, Ms. Nair said.

An amount of Rs.1.72 crore had been set apart for the construction of the Thalathukavu bridge. Various drinking water projects would get Rs.five crore. Roads in the district would be maintained at a cost of Rs.36.55 crore in the fiscal. The project outlay included Rs.56.29 crore of Plan funds, Rs.12-crore maintenance grant, and Rs.3.46-crore non-road fund besides grants obtained as part of Centrally sponsored schemes like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

A delegation will leave for the Mopani municipality in South Africa on October 25 as part of the third phase implementation of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum partnership programme. State Chief Information Commissioner Siby Mathews will inaugurate a one-day workshop as part of the Right to Information (RTI) week observance at the district panchayat on Thursday.