Welfare institutions, including schools, in the State will get a maximum of nine LPG cylinders annually at subsidised rates like households, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Anoop Jacob has said.

Replying to questions in the Assembly on Friday, the Minister said a directive to this effect had been received from the Union Government and the department was looking into the details of the order. Households will get nine LPG cylinders annually at subsidised rates from April this year and there is no move to increase the number.

Mr. Jacob said the oil companies have found that 96.59 per cent LPG consumers in the state were using 10 cylinders and only 3.41 per cent were purchasing more than 10 cylinders annually. The number of LPG consumers in the State was 73,24,899 and 75,857 applications were pending for new connections.

Autonomy

Minister for Education, P. K. Abdu Rabb informed the House that the Government was ready to provide autonomy status for colleges performing well as in the other states. Autonomy was needed in the changing scenario and it will go a long way in forging ahead in the higher education sector.

As many as 18,000 engineering seats were vacant in the engineering colleges in the state last year and 7,500 of them were in merit quota, he said. The government has already initiated steps to ensure quality education in engineering colleges. The model degree college project will be revived if the Centre extends financial assistance.

In reply to another question, the Education Minister said Government schools lack 7809 urinals and 539 toilets taking into the ration of one urinal for 20 to 40 children and one toilet for 80 to 120 children. There was no drinking water facility in 194 schools. In the case of aided schools, it was 7815, 1596 and 43 respectively. A Rs. 19.20 crore project for setting up urinals, toilets and providing drinking water in government schools had been given administrative sanction, he said.

Mr. Rabb said the Union Government has informed that Kerala will be considered when new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) was sanctioned in the country. An academic city on the lines of Dubai Knoweledge Village is to come up in the state.

Minister for Public Works, V. K. Ebrahim Kunju informed the House that the development of National Highways will be taken up under the Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concept. As the 3A (1) notification issued by the Centre will expire on March 26 this year, District Collectors had been asked to expedite the land acquisition process.

Smart villages

Minister for Revenue, Adoor Prakash said preliminary work for the SMART (speedy, modern, assured, responsible and transparent) project for the villages has commenced. The priority is for setting up village offices in grama panchayats which do not have them. Recommendations for creating revenue divisions at Nedumangad, Punalur, Kodungaloor, Vadakara and Taliparambu, creation of Kayamkulam taluk and for bifurcating 34 taluks are pending with the Government, he added.