Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday promised Chief Minister Ooomen Chandy that the Centre would give its nod for the Rs.248.39-crore Kuttanad Package for the specific development of some areas in the State in December first week.

However, he expressed his inability to enhance the Central share in the package to 90 per cent by stating that any change in cost sharing was not possible at this stage and 90 per cent Central sharing was applicable only for special category States.

Mr. Bansal also turned down the State's request for revising the project cost due to escalation in prices by saying “the package has been approved by the Union Cabinet after having been appraised by financial bodies. It is not possible to provide for any cost escalation”.

Mr. Chandy was informed about this when he led a delegation of Ministers to Mr. Bansal here to discuss various projects of the State.

IIT for State

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told Mr. Chandy that one of the five Indian Institute of Technologies (IIT), proposed to be started by the Centre during the 12th Plan, would come up in Kerala and a decision to this effect would be taken in consultation with the Planning Commission and the Union Cabinet.

Since Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had already supported an IIT for Kerala, he had no issues in giving his nod, Mr. Sibal told Mr. Chandy when he called on the Union Minister.

On setting up of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Integrated Institute of Science and Technology (LBSIIST) in Malappuram, Mr. Sibal agreed to consider granting Rs.50 crore to this. The proposal for the institute was in line with the Rajender Sachar Committee Report highlighting the need for new development strategies for minority communities, Mr. Chandy told the Minister.

Mr. Chandy thanked Mr. Sibal for sanctioning a Central university in Kasaragod and told him that the land for this university had already been identified and handed over and the inauguration of the same could be held in January, 2012.

The Chief Minister also met Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and sought additional power of 700 MW to compensate for the loss of hydel energy on account of fulfilling the national obligation of biodiversity preservation and forest conservation.

He pointed out that Delhi had surrendered about 1000 MW and wanted the Centre to consider the State's request. Earlier, interacting with journalists of a news agency here, Mr. Chandy reportedly said that Kerala had not given up its proposal to start an airline of its own, particularly to provide low-cost options to its vast diaspora in the Gulf. It would soon pursue this with the Centre.

“We are at the moment concentrating on our fourth international airport in Kannur. Once that is done, we will pursue the airline option. We have not given up on the idea of a low-cost carrier,” he said.

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