(MENAFN - Arab News) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has launched three major projects in Kerala that are expected to provide much-needed stimulus to the southern Indian state's economy.
He dedicated to the nation the Rs46 billion (around SR2.7 billlion) liquified natural gas (LNG) regasification terminal of the Petronet LNG here which would fuel power projects with a total capacity of 1,000 MW and help the state to attain energy security.
The Petronet, which imports LNG from Qatar's RasGas, will also provide homes with cheap, clean and safe cooking gas through the City Gas project and make available compressed natural gas for vehicles.
The federal government has offered financial aid to convert the state-run diesel buses to CNG.
"In the coming years, this terminal would bring enormous economic prosperity to Kerala, in fact the entire south India," said the prime minister.
"Kochi has entered the world LNG map as an industry-oriented and investment-friendly destination."
The terminal, which is currently running at eight percent of its installed capacity, has already received two shipments from RasGas and started the supply to local consumers like the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).
The first vessel from Qatar carrying 1,23,000 cubic meters of liquified gas arrived in August. The second vessel with 1,38,000 cubic meters of LNG reached the terminal a month later.
"The cleaner and greener energy would protect Kerala's natural beauty and it would meet the energy requirement of households and transport," he said.
"A new industrial corridor is also expected to come up along the route of the pipeline."
The laying of the pipeline to carry the gas to Mangalore and Kovai-Bengaluru is in progress despite stiff resistance at several places from the misguided local community fearing possibility of a burst which the firm rules out as absurd.
The first phase of City Gas is expected to be ready by December. Nearly half a million residents of the port city and nearby areas will get uninterrupted cooking gas, considered to be the fuel of 21st century. Since it was lighter than air, even if there was leakage, it would get easily diluted.
Oil and gas Minister Veerappa Moily urged the state to utilize the full potential of the project by making available the gas for households and vehicles in Thiruvananthapuram as well.
"We want to promote the use of LNG to meet 20 percent of India's energy needs by the next year. We would like to take the City Gas project to more homes and do it immediately," he said offering financial support to the state to popularize the LNG for domestic and transport purposes.
Fillip to IT industry
In Thiruvananthapuram, he laid the foundation stone for the world's largest corporate learning center of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) with a capacity to train 50,000 technology professionals every year, and a software development center. The world-class learning facility will have a built-in space of 6.1 million square feet.
"TCS is also setting up a software development Special Economic Zone (here). (It) will further enhance its presence in Kerala. I hope to see even more initiatives by TCS and other IT companies in Kerala especially in view of the high quality of human resource in the State," the prime minister said.
The 15,000-seat Learning Campus with an outlay of Rs35bn will be located in 97 acres of the Technocity and the campus will feature residential accommodation for professionals and faculty at the center.
"The TCS Learning Campus will be the new benchmark for corporate learning worldwide and this iconic facility will produce world class professionals to meet the future needs of the IT industry," said N Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director of India's largest software exporter.
The project will boost the local economy in the region and during the construction period alone, it is expected that this project will provide direct employment to over 2,000 skilled and unskilled local people for a period of four years.
An integral part of the project will be the skill development programs run by TCS to upgrade the skills of local youth and facilitate opportunities to work in the construction project, through contractors.
TCS is the single largest private sector employer in India with some 285,000 professionals working in the company worldwide and plans to hire 50,000 professionals before March 31 this year. It spends over 15 million hours on learning and development programs for its employees every year.
"Today is a very important day in the history of Kerala," said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
"A few years back, it was almost unthinkable. No one could visualize that Kerala will be home to such a large facility."
The Technopark hosts some 290 IT companies employing more than 45,000 professionals.
The new venture will certainly be a major boost to the IT sector in the state capital which will now get a global visibility.
"It is my dream to turn the youth of Kerala from
job seekers to job givers. There are already a good number of startup enterprises, which are lending us hope in this direction. More success stories will attract a larger number of such enterprises in the State," he aid.
The prime minister also launched an ambitious project of the state to make every citizen in the state computer literate within 33 months, coordinating technology and ensuring that the benefits of information technology are accessible to even the lower strata of society.
"The Total E-literacy Campaign to be implemented using the tools of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will help in reducing the digital divide. This will contribute to improvements in the living standards of the underprivileged population of the State," he said.
Jointly launched by the federal and state governments in association with the departments of education, information technology and local self-governments, is led by the P. N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra, promoted by the Department of General Education.
The first stage of the e-literacy project will be implemented in 100 villages spread over 14 districts.
It aims at turning 1.5 million computer illiterates into e-literates.
"In fact we need such initiatives to be taken across the length and breadth of the country. This will help us in realizing the full potential of ICT- in decentralized governance, in better delivery of services, particularly education, in financial inclusion and in e-commerce," the premier said.