"I have just approved yesterday expanding Metro Rail for Chennai upto Thiruvottiyur," he told reporters here.

Mentioning that a request was made by AIADMK general secretary and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa seeking extension of the metro network when he called on her on September 5, he said a decision has been taken and the project extension has been approved.

Jayalalithaa had sought the Centre's nod for extension of the Metro project from Washermenpet to Thiruvottiyur, over a distance of about 9 km.

"I am also aware that Thiruvottiyur is a highly congested area in North Chennai where people need public transport andit is important to encourage such public mode of transport consideriNg challenges posed by climate change."

Referring to challenges in urban development, he said saving energy and water was among them. "There is a need for a paradigm shift in urban governance and we are taking states on board."

"We are trying to improve the living standards of the people," he said and reiterated that by March 2015, the Chennai Metro Rail will be operational.

On the five fishermen sentenced to death in Sri Lanka, he said the Central government was doing its best, and appealed for confidence and patience.

"The death sentence is shocking and very disturbing," he said, adding that he had an interaction with his Sri Lankan counterpart recently in Seoul on the issue.

"I told him that people of India are very much agitated. I don't think fishermen were involved in smuggling and they are  working to earn their livelihood."

To a question on criticism of MDMK chief Vaiko of the Centre on this issue, he said, "Vaiko is free to do whatever he wants."

MDMK is part of the BJP-led NDA in Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, participating in a function here Venkiah Naidu gave away the "Nayudamma Award 2014" to UN Under Secretary General Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella for his contribution in the area of sustainable energy.

Yumkella, after receiving the award, delivered the 20th  Nayudamma Memorial Lecture.

The award was instituted by the Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives (NDA), based in Nellore, about 150 km from here in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

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