Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of the Kuttanad package, noted agricultural scientist, M.S. Swaminathan, MP emphasised the need for integration of various departments involved in the implementation of the package.

The renowned scientist was participating in the review meeting of the implementation of the ambitious Rs 1840 crore Kuttanad package at the collectorate here on Monday. Water Resources Minister, P.J. Joseph told the meeting that K. Biju, IAS, was appointed as the new project director to oversee the implementation was appointed and that he took charge on Monday.

Dr. Swaminathan later told reporters that the priority of the Kuttanad package implementation still remains the terms of reference mentioned in his report, that of measures for strengthening the ecological security of the Kuttanad wetland eco-system and measures for expanding sustainable livelihood opportunities for the people of the area.

He said that the implementation will accelerate as the money was now available. “We shall ensure that it (the money) is utilized,” Dr. Swaminathan said. He said that he could see a larger commitment from the part of Government of India to preserve the ecosystem of Kuttanad. Dwelling on the opportunities of water tourism in the area, he said that the preservation of the eco-system was important for tourism also. “Bad ecosystem means bad business. There are challenging tasks, but I am sure they can be met,” he said.

He also welcomed the Kerala Government budget proposal for setting up an International Centre for studying below sea-level farming in Kuttanad. He expressed the hope that the 12 watershed projects for Onattukara part of the Kuttanad package will be completed by April 2013.

Rs 379 crore sanctioned for Kuttanad package

Water Resources Minister, P.J. Joseph, who presided over the meeting, said that tenders have been invited for a total of Rs 379 crore of works in the Kuttanad package. The sanction has been accorded for Rs 248.39 crore worth works for the development of Onattukkara part of the Kuttanad package. The tenders will be floated for seven of the total 12 watershed projects in Onattukkara area within 20 days. The emphasis will be on modernizing the water resources and linked canals as part of these works. Tenders have been floated for all works, except the Onattukara component of the Kuttanad package, Minister said.

The Minister also informed that Prosperity Council, which oversees the implementation of the package, will be holding a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on April 18, chaired by chief minister, Oommen Chandy. The widening of the Alappuzha-Changanassery (AC) canal in the second phase will be limited to 30 metres for practical reasons, even though M.S. Swaminathan Commission had suggested widening up to 50 metres. The detailed estimate for the first phase of the project upto Nedumudi has been prepared, he said.

The study report of the Thaneermukkom bund and Thottappally spillway by IIT, Chennai has been received. The College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET) has been entrusted with the task of preparing a detailed draft. CET is expected to submit it within two months, he said.

MLAs, C.F. Thomas, C.K. Sadasivan, Thomas Chandy, A.M. Arif and R. Rajesh, district panchayat president, U. Pratibha Hari, Principal secretary, Water Resources, V.J. Kurian, district collector, V. Ratheeshan, Kuttanad package chief engineer, P. Anilkumar, S. Bala Ravi, team leader of the study by Dr. Swaminathan, farmers, contractors and heads of various Government departments attended the meeting.