The Planning Commission will favour greater freedoms to Kerala in implementing Centrally-sponsored schemes so as to achieve better utilisation of funds.

Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia gave this assurance during a brainstorming session with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Ministers, members of the State Planning Board and higher officials here on Monday on a perspective Plan for 2030 and interaction on development and planning issues facing the State.

The Deputy Chairman said that Central criteria for funding under the schemes could not be changed as such since the schemes were intended to achieve balance among the State. However, freedoms could be granted within the overall framework.

Dr. Ahluwalia admitted that it was not correct to deny assistance to the State because it had already achieved development criteria fixed by the Centre for assistance.

The Deputy Chairman said that he would take up with the Central government the State’s demand for inclusion of dairy development under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The State government should submit a proposal on this for discussion.

Expressing himself in favour of the Unique Identification project Aadhaar, Dr. Ahluwalia said that he hoped to resolve the issues raised by the Union Home Ministry over the project. The Home Department need not use the unique identification, if it had a problem with it.

Noting that the public private participation model would be suitable for infrastructure development in the State, the Deputy Chairman said that the model used for the Cochin International Airport Limited should be extended to other areas of infrastructure development in the State.

He said that there was no issue in the way of the proposed Kochi Metro Rail Project. The project could take off once the procedures are completed.

Both Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Mr. Ahluwalia agreed that the public distribution system in the State should be strengthened. Besides, development should be inclusive.

Figures suggest that Kerala is on the side of growth, and it has to be inclusive. “The government will be very challenged in this process,” the Deputy Chairman noted.