The government is planning to withdraw load-shedding prior to the SSLC examination in March, Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed has said.

Replying to questions in the Assembly on Monday, the Minister said that the decision would be made with the permission of the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan said that crop loss on account of drought had been pegged at Rs.3,219.78 crore. About 30 to 50 per cent fall had been reported in paddy production. Pepper, vegetables, tapioca, coconut, rubber, nutmeg, sugarcane and coffee had been affected by drought.

Panchayat Minister M.K. Muneer said that the Plan expenditure of local self-government institutions for the current financial year till Monday was 28 per cent. Uploading of projects for next year had begun. A new monitoring system had been envisaged for project implementation. The funds apportioned for civic bodies would not be diverted for other purposes.

A portion of the World Bank aid would be given to the 150-odd minus panchayats (panchayats which did not have own fund) for capacity-building. This support would be provided for two years.

The powers of District Planning Committees had not been usurped. The project clearance and implementation system would be revamped from the next financial year so that the civic bodies would get nine months for implementation. The practice of jacking up the expenditure in official records by depositing Plan funds in government agencies would not be permitted, he said.

Minister for Home Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that 622 murders had been reported in the State during the past two years. Thiruvananthapuram rural police district topped the list with 63 murders.

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