Kochi, Apr 19 (UNI) Kerala, a resource-rich state that has somehow missed the bus in industrialisation, needs to attract more investment and industries, and create better employment opportunities for its youth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.
Dr Singh, who kicked off his campaign for the Congress in the state with a rally at Perumbavoor, near here, said Kerala must cash in on its 'excellent human resources, hard-working and sincere people and knowledge base' and build upon the start that the United Democratic Front (UDF) government had given.
Having taken over the state in near bankruptcy five years ago, the UDF had worked to achieve nine per cent growth last year, higher than the national average and among the country's highest, he said.
Dr Singh said it was after a long gap that the state had a government supportive of the dispensation at the Centre and so was able to secure and implement landmark projects and schemes that had transformed Kerala.
He enumerated proposals like the Rs 2,000 crore Vallarpadam Container Terminal in Kochi, the Rs 20,000 crore Kayamkulam power project of NTPC, the implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission in cities like Thiruvanthapuram and Kochi and support for traditional cash crops of the state under the National Horticulture Mission.
''The government has taken the lead in promoting Technopark in Trivandrum and the IT park in Kochi,'' he said, adding that it had also taken care of the concerns of weaker sections, the SC/STs and OBCs and women with schemes like 'Ashraya' and 'Kudumbasri'.
In a state, cited as a model across the world in literacy and healthcare, the UDF government had made marked strides in the field of education, he said.
''The UDF government has sanctioned over 80 engineering colleges in which over 12,000 students are admitted each year..Students from Kerala now need not go to other states for education.
Crores of rupees spent in other states are now being spent in Kerala to create more jobs,'' Dr Singh added.
With a promise to banish ignorance and poverty, the Prime Minister said these development-oriented policies need to be continued and 'the UDF was best placed to deliver the vision of a prosperous, equitable and contented state'.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who also spoke at the rally, said he was confident that the UDF would return to power to pursue its policies that had brought such positive changes in the state.
On Smart City, he said even the court had appreciated government's efforts and recognised that there was no 'hidden motive' in the project.
More than the fact that it would give employment to over 33,000 people, he said Smart City would invite IT companies to Kerala and make it a technological hub.
Senior Congress leaders T H Mustafa, A C Jose, P C Chacko and several UDF candidates from the district, including UDF convenor P P Thankachan and T M Jacob, were present.
The Prime Minister later left for Thodupuzha in neighbouring Idukki district to address another rally.
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