Funds row, Smart City issue set to rock Kerala assembly

The Kerala assembly session starting on Monday is likely to see some sparks fly as the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) is ready to take on the government on issues like the alleged misutilisation of central funds and the delay in the much-hyped Rs15bn Smart City IT project in Kochi.

The Congress-led UDF, the 43-member opposition in the state assembly, says it is all set to “expose” the failure of the two-and-a-half-year long V S Achuthanandan government.

“We will expose the failure of the Achuthanandan government and the reason why this government, in order to cover up their failure, last month staged a protest in Delhi. Never before has the central government pumped in funds to Kerala through various schemes and the government has made a mess of it,” said Congress leader V D Satheesan.

The funds that Kerala received from the central government include the Kuttanad package and the Idukki package. They have brought in funds to the tune of Rs30bn meant for revival of the state’s now-defunct agriculture sector.

“The state government, instead of blaming the central government, if it had prepared the detailed project report for the Kuttanad package, the centre would have released the funds by now,” Satheesan said.

Among the other central schemes that have not been properly utilised include the national rural employment guarantee scheme, the national rural health mission and the tsunami rehabilitation package, for which the term ends in March 2009, he added.
The Smart City project coming up in Kochi, the Rs15bn IT project to be built by the Dubai based Smart City, would be another issue that the opposition would take up.
“It is more than a year since the foundation stone for the project was laid and since then nothing has happened. Now they are dictating terms and hence the government is caught on the back foot,” Satheesan said.

But state Parliamentary Minister M Vijayakumar said that the government was doing its job.

“We have now reached the half-way mark of our term and from now on we will be consolidating the foundations that have been laid on the various projects and programmes. We have done several programmes and without doubt we can say that this government in a short period of time has certainly put its best foot forward,” Vijayakumar said.

He, however, admitted that time was lost in dealing with certain controversies. – Indo-Asian News Service.

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