Construction of buildings for the proposed SmartCity project is expected to begin within a fortnight, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said.

In reply to questions in the Assembly on Thursday, the Chief Minister said that on completing the first phase, the project was expected to create 15,000 jobs and in the second phase about 75,000 employment opportunities. All pending issues with the promoters of the project were sorted out at the talks held here on February 2.

To another question, the Chief Minister said that two-lakh people were employed in the 10 IT parks in the State. The government had no plan to raise the retirement age of employees in public sector undertakings (PSUs), he said.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran said the subsidy for cattle feed would be revised for supporting milk producers. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act would be amended to check the sale of prohibited milk marketed by private dairies in different brand names. It had been proposed to revise the minimum wages of dairy and poultry farm workers from Rs.150 to Rs.180 a day. A decision in this score would be taken in consultation with the Labour Department.

A modern meat product centre would be set up at Chalakkudy under the aegis of Meat Products of India (MPI) at a cost of Rs.20 crore. The existing laws do not have any provision to regulate the prices in hotels. As many as 20,784 raids were conducted between April and December last year as part of the drive to check hoarding and black-marketing. About 2,53,260 kg rice, 22,378 kg wheat, 26,387 litres of kerosene and 1,175 kg sugar were seized in raids.

Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said the government was planning to pilot a legislation, the Kerala Financial Institutions Investors Interest Protection Law, to guard the interests of those making investments in the financial institutions in the State.

Education Minister M.A. Baby said there was no proposal to promote junior higher secondary school teachers as senior teachers on completing five years service. The government had no plan to open new schools in backward areas, he said.