Finally Kuttanad package goes into implementation mode

October 7th, 2008 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 7 (IANS) Three months after the central government cleared the Rs.18.4-billion ($409-million) Kuttanad package, the Kerala government Tuesday decided to set up two committees to oversee the implementation of this.The government will form the Kuttanad Prosperity Council to oversee the implementation of the package, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting held here.

“This committee would be chaired by the chief minister, and would include state cabinet ministers, law makers from the area and officials,” said Achuthanandan.

The other committee will be headed by the chief secretary and will include top state government officials, he added.

The package, prepared by agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, is expected to give a new lease of life to Kuttanad, often referred to as as the ‘rice bowl of Kerala’.

About 90 percent of the Kuttanad area comes in Alappuzha district, which incidentally is the hometown of leading political personalities like Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Chief Minister Achuthanandan.

Kuttanad, which has some 25,000 hectares of paddy cultivable land, is the only area under paddy cultivation in the state which is situated below sea level, and this causes a lot of difficulties for the farmers.

Another major drawback in Kuttanad is that salt water enters the cultivable areas and the biggest task for these farmers is to pump out the salt water and ensure that fresh water is available during the time of cultivation.

It is here that the much-awaited Kuttanad package will prove beneficial because this package will provide funds for the Kuttanad ecology revamp plan once it receives the proposals from the Kerala government.

The two committees will now have to prepare detailed project reports about promotion of natural water flow, new roads, enhanced ecological health and areas where agricultural activities would be the beneficiary.

The Swaminathan report suggests that the entire package should be implemented in three years’ time.

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