As many as 35 major drinking water projects which will benefit 35 lakh people will be commissioned this year, Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran has said.

Mr. Premachandran, while replying to questions in the Assembly on Thursday, said that 43 lift irrigation projects will be revamped at a cost of Rs.108 crore this year. About 80 per cent wells in the State are polluted. Steps have been taken to frame a legislation for protecting river basins and forming an authority for conservation of wetlands. A permanent mechanism has been envisaged with central assistance for monitoring and preventing pollution of 44 rivers, he said.

It has been decided to introduce a water card system and launch mobile testing laboratories for maintaining the quality of drinking water. The water cards will have details of the quality of drinking water in each locale. The pilot project will be launched in Kozhikode and the extended all over the State. Formalities for setting up a State River Basin Authority and six river basin board with statutory powers under the authority were in its final stage. Eight new rigs under the Ground Water Department will be commissioned this year.

The first one would be commissioned at Kozhikode this month. The Cherthala drinking water project will be partially commissioned this year.

Health and Social Welfare Minister P.K.Sreemathy said that considering the job opportunities in the paramedical sector, the government has decided to give permission for setting up new colleges which have sufficient infrastructure facilities and meet the mandated norms.

Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem said that the Kerala State Industries Development Corporation and FACT will enter into a joint venture for setting up a trade and convention centre on 30 acres land owned by the latter. KSIDC was preparing a feasibility report for the project.

Sports and Youth Welfare Minister M.Vijayakumar said that the government will constitute a youth Welfare Commission on the lines of the Women's Commission with statutory powers. The manual of Keralaotsavam will be revised. A proposal for giving grace marks to the winners in Keralotsavam was being considered by the government. Steps have been taken for forming a Youth Welfare Department, he said.