The State government has expended only 19 per cent of the funds provided by the Central government for improving infrastructure facilities in corporations and municipalities, Urban Affairs Minister P.K.Kunhalikutty has said.

Responding to questions in the Assembly on Wednesday, Mr.Kunhalikutty said that the government was forced to pay commitment charges to the Centre for poor absorption of funds provided under the Kerala State Urban Development Project (KSUDP), Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns and such others.

Many other States have secured the second tranche. There were too many hiccups in utilising the funds within the prescribed time. Work on the second phase of the Vyttila mobility hub will be taken up soon.

Preparation of development master-plans for cities and towns will be completed soon. There were no proposals to forming new panchayats by delimiting the existing panchayats, Panchayat Minister M.K.Muneer said.

The Forest Department will open 11 units Vanashree in the cities, Minister for Forests and Sports K.B.Ganesh Kumar said. It has been decided to intensify the marketing of forest product in the cities.

The government was planning to lift the curbs on planting sandalwood in private land. Law would be framed for easing the curbs. Sabari drinking water will be marketed all over the State in an extensive manner.

A National Playfield Association has been formed for protecting the playgrounds in the State. It has been decided to form the Playfield Association of Kerala as per the directive of the Union Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry, he said.

The Kerala State Electricity Board is planning to extend e-payment facility to all customers. At present it has been limited to high-tension and extra high tension customers, Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed said.

The government will encourage private investment for developing small-scale power generation units, he said.