Kerala to go ahead with new dam at Mullaperiyar

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 20: Asserting that the Kerala Government will go ahead with the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar, State Governor R L Bhatia said today that such a step would be a permanent solution for addressing the problems of the 'fragile dam.' The Governor was addressing the state Assembly on the commencement of the Budget Session.

The Kerala Government's argument was that any move to increase the storage level of the existing more than a century-old dam at Mullaperiyar, as demanded by neighbouring Tamil Nadu, posed a serious threat to the lives of people living downstream.

Referring to the welfare and development schemes being proposed, the Governor said pension scheme for farmers, employement generation schemes for youth, steps to increase food production, setting up of farmers' debt relief commission and housing relief fund for providing financial assistance to BPL families would be some of the major projects that would be implemented this year.

He said in order to tackle the problem of acute labour shortage in agriculture sector, the government proposed to set up an Agri Polytechnic under the Agriculture University. Besides implementing a new scheme for the promotion of vegetable cultivation in schools, one thousand 'Vegetable Villages' would be established throughout the state.

He said the government proposed to develop IT cities and knowledge cities across the state. A new state data centre would be set up at Technopark here to provide further impetus to e-governmance activities.

The Governor said a sum of Rs 5000 crore would be distributed through cooperative banks as agriculture loans during the current year. Timely credit was already made available to the paddy and vegetable cultivators at four per cent interest, thus providing a monetary benefit of more than Rs 3000 crore to the farmers and the general public.

He said measures would be taken to enforce minimum wages for all categories of workers left uncovered under the Minimum Wages act.

''A survey of migrant labour and child labour is proposed to be conducted and enforcement of the relevant laws would be strengthened.'' He said computerisation of employment exchanges will be completed on a priority basis so as to make available the data of jobseekers to prospective employers through a web-enabled service.

The governor said a state health policy would be formulated so as to streamline and improve the public health care system in the state. A medical college hospital would be set up in Pathanamthitta district by the Travancore Devaswom Board.

In order to check the price hike, the Civil Supplies Corporation would establish People's Bazaar in all districts. It was also proposed to start Hyper Markets at Thalasserry, Kottayam, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the government was also considering issuing of identity cards to Non-Resident Keralites as a means for reducing the hardship faced by them in establishing their identity. A global meet would be conducted this year with the participation of NRKs, including those who are abroad, within India and the returnees.

UNI

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