Special Correspondent

On Kuttanad package

Flays LDF for its proposed stir against Centre

Says Kuttanad package beneficial to State

Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy on Wednesday criticised the LDF for its proposed anti-Centre agitation and alleged that the coalition is using the much-beneficial Kuttanad package to provide steam for it.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Chandy said the LDF announced its anti-Centre agitation to conceal the snub it got in the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha. It was now using the Kuttanad package for its anti-Central agitation by masking its dimension.

Stating that he was disclosing the details of the package in the light of the attempts to create a misunderstanding about it, Mr. Chandy said the Centre would bear 99.75 per cent of the Rs.1840.75-crore package.

The State government would have to spend only Rs.4.65 crore or 0.25 per cent of the project cost. The Centre had asked the State to submit detailed project reports (DPRs) on the basis of which it would release funds under the package. The State would have to bear the burden of the projects that would cost less than Rs.50 lakh.

The State had identified 17 projects for the Rs.4.65 crore it would have to spend. Most of the development work related to building agriculture infrastructure.

The Chief Minister had insisted on the Centre’s “in-principle” clearance before the State submitted the DPRs.

The status report on the Kuttanad package had faulted the State government for the delay in submitting the DPRs, he said.

Mr. Chandy asserted that the UPA government had adopted a liberal approach towards all of Kerala’s demands except the plea for a railway zone and restoration of ration quota.

The Chief Minister had made conflicting statements on the Kuttanad package between July 24, when the Centre cleared the project, and Wednesday, first claiming that the Centre had shown injustice and now stating that he would have to examine the proposals further.

He and his colleagues were making persistent statements to distort facts, Mr. Chandy said. He wanted Mr. Achuthanandan to withdraw his statements criticising the Centre and issue an apology.

Textbook price

Mr. Chandy criticised the government for hiking the price of textbooks for classes 1 to VII. Even though the Centre had announced that it would subsidise the textbook for distribution free of cost for these classes, the government had marked up the prices to avail itself of higher subsidy amounts.

With regard to the controversial Class VII social science textbook, he maintained that there were no differences in the stand adopted by the UDF and the Congress.