Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Wednesday that the foundation stone for the Vizhinjam International Container Transhipment Project would be laid early in March.

Talking to mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the State to lay the foundation stone had been tentatively fixed for March 10 and 11. (The visit and launching of the project had been postponed earlier). Central clearance for the project would be received soon.

Mr. Chandy said funds for schemes in the Vision 2010 Project to be carried out before March-end had been earmarked in the supplementary demands for grants for the current year passed by the Assembly. Government departments had been directed to start implementation of various schemes proposed in the Budget for the coming year at the beginning of the financial year itself.

Overwhelming response

Mr. Chandy said that the Kochi Metro Rail Project has received an overwhelming response for which the Government had called for expression of interest. The Kannur airport project was awaiting the final nod of the Centre. The project would be carried out either on build-operate-and-transfer or public private partnership basis.

He said the company had been registered for operating budget airlines to the Gulf countries. Air Kerala would offer concessional fares at 20 to 25 per cent of the normal fares to overseas Keralites who could not visit their home State for more than five years. The Centre was being pressed for the needed exemptions to start operations.