THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry on Saturday sought Rs 2,200-crore Central assistance for critical infrastructure projects, including airport expansion in the Union Territory (UT).
In her speech at the 30th southern zonal council meeting in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan renewed the demand of the Union Territory for land from neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the airport expansion.
The meeting was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and attended by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin.
She said the government of Puducherry is happy that the Centre launched a ‘Financial Assistance to States for Capital Investment’ scheme at an outlay of Rs 1 lakh crore.
“The scheme aims to provide an interest-free 50-year loan to States to undertake infrastructure projects. The UTs have, however, not been included under the scheme. The UT of Puducherry has to undertake huge infrastructure projects. But, it is not part of the compensating support from the Centre and is not part of the Union Budget as other UTs are.” “Puducherry is, therefore, constrained from taking up big infrastructure projects. We request a special central assistance of around Rs 2,200 crore to meet our critical infrastructure projects, such as airport expansion, port connectivity, health infrastructure upgradation and new Assembly complex, among others,” she said.
Reiterating the UT’s earlier plea on the airport expansion, the 395 acres of land for the expansion of Puducherry airport abetting Tamil Nadu “need to be acquired and handed over to the airport authority.” “It is, therefore, our earnest request that the government of Tamil Nadu may consider the requirement of 395 acres of land for expansion of the airport. The expansion of the airport cannot be seen from the prism of uni-State benefit. Rather, it will provide air connectivity to the contiguous districts of Tamil Nadu — Villupuram and Cuddalore. This is a proposal that will be mutually beneficial to both Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. Also, the expansion of the airport will serve as a shot in the arm to the UDAN scheme of Central government,” Soundararajan said.
She highlighted other demands of the UT like 100 per cent funding for centrally-sponsored schemes (CSS).
The 30th council meeting was held for the southern States and Union Territories.