Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he was confident of a good working relationship with the Centre regardless of political differences to take forward the development of the state. "Though it will be a courtesy call, development issues relating to the state will broadly figure during the meeting," Chandy, whose current tenure as chief minister has two more year to go, told PTI.
Asked what are the key issues of development to be taken up with the Centre, Chandy, who did not attend the installation of the new government, said "let us see what their priorities are and that would also be factored in while working out the state's projects." Chandy had earlier made it clear that the UDF government was not for any confrontation with the new government at the Centre even though they have political differences.
Looking back to the last three years, Chandy expressed satisfaction about the performance of the government based on the plank 'Development and Care,' which gave equal emphasis to infrastructure development and welfare of the people, especially the less privileged. The Congress-led UDF Government will come out with more support to help business and technological ventures, enthused by the good response a youth entrepreneurship programme in Start-up Village at Kochi Infopark has received. "For the last few decades aspiration of a Keralite youth has been a job or a visa. This mindset has started changing with more and more graduates and technically skilled youth looking for opportunities to do things by themselves.They have ideas and acumen to execute their ideas.All that they require is an initial support from government and state agencies," Chandy said.
Chandy said government would give added emphasis and budgetary support to promote such business and technological vetnrues. Already 200 units have come up at the Startup village at the Infopark and more than 1000 ideas are still waiting to take-off, he said.
As a policy, the Government had set apart one per cent of the budget for all departments for Youth entrepreneurship, which together stood at around Rs 500 crore. This will be enhanced further and all the departments had been asked to submit their views on this, he said.
Chandy, whose 'Mass Contact Programme' brought laurels to him including a UN award, said "We have been able to carry forward many of the items on our agenda and more remains to be done."
On the development front, he said some projects like Kochi Metro and Kannur airport are on track. The first phase of the metro would be commissioned in 2016, he said. The first flight would take off from Kannur International airport in north Kerala in December next year. The work on the airport terminal would start in July, he said.
Smartcity IT project in Kochi would be commissioned next year. The government was keen on time-bound completion of the proposed Mono Rail projects in Thiruvanathapuram and at Kozhikode. The sea plane service, abandoned due to protest from people living in backwater areas, would be revived, he said. He said side by side the infrastructure development, welfare of the people continue to receive due attention. Schemes like rice at Re 1 per kg were successfully implemented to the benefit of the less privileged.
Chandy said the good work done by the government helped Congress and its UDF allies to buck the anti-incumbency and win 12 of the 20 seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls.
A popular leader who has never lost any assembly election in his home segment Puthuppally in Kottayam district since 1970, Chandy had turned the Lok Sabha polls into a referendum on his government's performance along with national issues.
Listing the priorities before him, Chandy said issues in health sector was a major challenge. "High cost of treatment was an important factor the government has to tackle," he said, adding that government was working out schemes in this regard.