Kerala lowlands restoration to be funded by government

July 24th, 2008 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The government Thursday decided to fund the restoration of the original environment in the famous Kuttanad lowlands of Kerala, the one area of human habitation below sea level apart from Holland. In a cabinet meeting here chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was also decided that the government would provide financial support to various environment improvement programmes around the country, going by a list of suggestions made by the Chennai-based M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.

State governments would implement out of their funds programmes suggested by the Foundation which would not cost over Rs.5 million, the cabinet decided.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told the media after the cabinet meeting that the central government would provide funds for the Kuttanad ecology revamp plan once it received proposals from the Kerala government.

The Kuttanad region, unique because it once had alternate crops of rice and prawns, is now highly polluted, affecting the crops and even the famous backwater tourism in the area.

Dasmunsi said the cabinet had approved the “constitution of implementation mechanism consisting of Kuttanad and Alappuzha prosperity council, task implementation and management committee and setting up of a project management unit.

“Implementation of the programmes will lead to promotion of natural waterflow, dilute pollutants, enhance ecological health, minimise the adverse ecological impact on closure of the barrage and elimination of waterweeds, lead to reproduction of native fishes, prawn and shells and cut down the solid waste pollution.

“Water quality monitoring will help in checking efficacy of taken measures and deciding need for additional measures.”

The plan envisages elimination of water pollution in Kuttanad from local sources, minimising chances of major crop loss during floods and improving the de-watering operation. Dasmunsi expected that this would “promote better rice cultivation, reduction in cost of cultivation and switching to one-rice-one-fish farming mode”.

That should in turn lead to increased fish production, improved livelihood for the fishing community and increased availability of better quality fish and food. The plan would lead to economic benefits of tourism being more widely spread too.

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