The Kerala government today wanted the Centre to withdraw its notification relating to the display and sale of ornamental fish as it would affect the job prospects of lakhs of people in the state. This was one of the main demands in the memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet colleagues during his visit to Kochi. "The Ministry of Environment and Forests should freeze the notification on the sale and display of ornamental fish as it will adversely affect the employment of lakhs of people," the memorandum said. The Centre should hold a discussion with state fisheries ministers in this regard, the memorandum added. According to official sources here, the notification, issued last month, had restrained, among others, the sale, display and catching of over 150 varieties of ornamental fish. It has come at a time when the state was planning a 'mega project' to tap the potential of the sector further, the sources said. Vijayan handed over the state's list of demands to the prime minister during a meeting held at Kochi after the inauguration of the Kochi Metro, an official release said. The chief minister later said the meeting was "very fruitful" and the prime minister assured him that the demands of the Council of Ministers would be considered "sympathetically". "The PM was very positive with regard to Kerala's demands.
He appreciated the state's efforts and initiatives on the development front and social sectors," Vijayan said. The memorandum sought clearance for the state's various demands, including setting up of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences and an International Ayurveda Institute. The Kochi Metro second phase extension project, with an estimated cost of Rs 2577 crore, was now pending before the Rural Development Ministry, the memorandum said and sought its early clearance. It wanted an early sanction of Rs 636 crore arrears with regard to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Vijayan sought financial support from the Centre to enhance the production incentive being given to rubber cultivators to Rs 200 per kg from the present Rs 150 per kg. The state requested a one time financial help of Rs 500 crore for completing the National Rural Drinking Water project. With regard to the state's long term plea of setting up All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the memorandum said the state government had located 200 acres of land for the purpose at Kozhikode. The state also wanted the Centre not to privatise public sector undertakings including HLL Ltd and sought help for the expansion of Kochi Special Economic Zone by including 200 acres more to the existing 100 acres. The state requested funds for setting up a gas based Urea Plant at FACT at Kochi. The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has agreed to give 200 acres of land for Rs 1200 crore at FACT, according to the memorandum. The plan was to set up an eight tonne capacity plant for which financial help of the Ministry of Fertilizers was needed, it added. Meanwhile, Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala also submitted a memorandum seeking urgent clearance of arrears with regard to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.