`Centre ready to aid development projects'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM OCT. 31. If the State Government submits feasible development projects, the Centre will provide financial assistance, the Union Minister of State for Urban Development, O. Rajagopal, has said.

Inaugurating a workshop on capital development organised by the Capital City Development Council here today, Mr. Rajagopal said that long-term easy loans would be given to practical projects.

"Urban development is a State subject and it is for the State to fix the development priorities," he said. He stressed the need to develop satellite towns.

The Urban Development Ministry would convene a meeting of the heads of civic bodies, the Local Administration and Finance Ministers and other officials concerned on November 15 here so that the State officials could interact with the Union Government officials, he said.

The State Government should reasonably hike the user fee for public services. "The days of free lunch are gone. The public will have to pay for the services provided. But the Government will have to take the people into confidence about the way the money is being utilised," he said.

HUDCO was reluctant to give loans to Kerala due to non-payment. But now the impasse had been cleared, he said.

V. S. Sivakumar, MP, in his presidential address, sought financial aid for the Rs. 200-crore project he had submitted to the Centre under the City Challenge Programme. He urged the Centre to provide a Rs. 18-crore HUDCO aid for completing the Trikannapuram, Vallakadavu, Kundamankadavu, Attukal and Kulasekharam bridges.

The Information and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M. M. Hassan, said that the Government was committed to developing the capital city and had formed a Cabinet sub-committee in this regard. Now the focus was on clean Kerala too, he said.

The Mayor, J. Chandra, said that the Corporation should have its own police so that taking action against footpath vendors and illegal structures would be more easy. Getting police assistance for raids by the health squad and other activities of the Corporation were not that easy, she said.

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