Stating that he had understood for himself what sort of anomalies plagued the implementation of the Kuttanad Package, Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan has said that earnest efforts would be made to take the Rs.1,840 crore-package forward with the maximum momentum possible. A report on the current situation would be submitted to the Chief Minister within two days.
Talking to the media after a three-hour boat trip across Kuttanad, seeing and inspecting various works that were going on as part of the package, Mr. Mohanan said there were a lot of anomalies that were delaying the progress of the package. These were not just on the field where different construction/renovation and development works were going on, but also on the bureaucratic level with lack of coordination between the departments involved in the gargantuan task.
Stipulating a timeframe for completion of the project at this juncture would be to be over-confident since at the present rate of progress, it could take at least 10 years to implement it. However, the pace was expected to pick up with a new special officer, Jose T. Mathew, currently principal of the Central Academy for State Forest Services, to assume charge of implementation within a week. With the various committees, including the Prosperity Council chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, involved in monitoring the implementation also to meet more frequently, earnest efforts would be made to complete as much as possible of the package within three years, the Minister said.
Earlier, Mr. Mohanan, accompanied by Kuttanad legislator Thomas Chandy, undertook a whirlwind tour of the Kuttanad region, stopping at the Marthandam ‘kayal' paddy polder to inspect ongoing outer bund construction works among other places. Cruising on a houseboat along some regions, and then jumping onto a speedboat to race to other far-flung regions, the Minister also spent considerable time with workers engaged in piling and slab works for outer bunds, studying the process.
“The construction of outer bunds is one of the most important components of the package. And there are a lot of issues in the ongoing work, mainly because the slabs are not going down deep enough to prevent water from entering the paddy fields. This glitch has resulted in water that flooded paddy fields four months back still submerging them. This is one issue where we will urgently work out a solution, since completion of the outer bunds will mean half of the problems faced by farmers here are solved,” he said.
Stating that the forthcoming Prosperity Council meeting under Mr. Chandy would strive hard to draw out a committed implementation model for the package, Mr. Mohanan said lack of prioritization of projects under the package too had come to his notice. This would be looked into as well. The Minister, who later held separate meetings with officials involved in implementation of the package and with farmers from the region at the Collectorate, said he would submit a report on the situation to Mr. Chandy within two days.
Keywords: Kuttanad package