Bengal, Kerala chief ministers meet PM with wish list

May 30th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The chief ministers of Kerala and West Bengal Friday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in expediting developmental programmes in their states. While West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wanted to get the Kolkata airport modernised, his Kerala counterpart V.S. Achuthanandan was keen on the Rs.18.4 billion recommended by a committee headed by eminent scientist M.S. Swaminathan for development and preservation of the Kuttanadu wetlands.

Bhattacharjee is believed to have drawn the attention of the prime minister to the spat between Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the Planning Commission over the delay in the modernisation of various airports. Patel had alleged that the plan panel’s “constant objections” had delayed the modernisation of the Kolkata and Chennai airports.

The committee on infrastructure, headed by the prime minister, has cleared the first phase of the Kolkata and Chennai airports. Kolkata’s first phase is expected to cost about Rs 15.42 billion. Two international agencies - Aeroport du Paris Internationale and RMJM of Hong Kong - have been appointed as consultants for the Kolkata project.

According to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) sources, Manmohan Singh has assured the chief minister that the process would be initiated without delay.

The West Bengal chief minister also sought immediate clearance for a long pending proposal to set up a deep sea port.

Achuthanandan, who was in the national capital to also attend the CPI-M’s two-day central committee meeting, said he invited the prime minister to lay the foundation stone for the proposed Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Indian Institute of Space science and Technology (IIST) and the new coach factory in Kanjikode, Palakkad.

The prime minister, who has just undergone a cataract surgery in his right eye, reportedly told the chief minister that he could visit the state last week of June or July.

The Kerala chief minister asked Manmohan Singh to expedite the Kuttanadu package, which is yet to be cleared.

Achuthanandan also handed over a memorandum by Indian workers in a US shipping company alleging exploitation.

The workers at a Mississippi shipyard, who have been on a strike for more than a month in the US, claim they were taken on the false promise of permanent residency and were forced to live under inhuman conditions. The company denies the charge.

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