The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha on Friday virtually bypasses Kerala's special needs and demands.

An allocation of Rs.100 crore for Kerala Agricultural University as part of a new initiative to promote excellence in education and research and an allocation of Rs.60 crore for the proposed Kochi Metro Rail project (which is expected to cost more than Rs.5,000 crore) are the only special offers in the budget for the State.

The allocation for the Kochi Metro Rail is tantamount to the Centre's in-principle approval for the project, according to top officials of the State government. The feasibility study for the project has already been completed and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which will be in charge of implementing it, has found the project viable. They said the budget allocation will liven up the preparatory work now in progress for launching the work on the project.

The allocation proposed for Kerala Agricultural University is against a detailed project the university had submitted before the Union government for starting new-generation courses in agricultural science, building an administrative block, and strengthening research activities for increasing productivity in the farm sector. This allocation will help the university get started on its ambition of becoming a centre of excellence in course content and research activities.

Central government institutions and agencies in Kerala too have received their usual annual allocations in the budget. The Spices Board has received an allocation of Rs.99.35 crore, Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited Rs.61.75 crore, Cochin Shipyard Rs.56.61 crore, Rubber Board Rs.173.04 crore, Cashew Board Rs.18 crore and the Laxmi Bai National College of Physical Education Rs.15 crore.


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