K.P. Mohanan to lead a delegation of MPs, MLAs to assess situation

In stark contradiction to what officials had been claiming so far, Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan on Tuesday said there was no visible progress yet on the implementation of the Rs.1,841-crore Kuttanad Package.

Addressing the media here after the first meeting of the mini-Prosperity Council that was set up recently to supervise the implementation of the package, Mr. Mohanan said that officials were not able to present details of what was done so far. All that they could say was that project reports were being prepared or that work was in progress, but again, without any concrete data to substantiate their claims.

There were a lot of anomalies in the system of implementation, with the officials not being able to say even what was the length of the outer bunds, the most crucial part of the package, that was completed so far, the Minister said.

He said that the issue would be discussed with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday itself and he would then lead a delegation comprising MPs and MLAs to Kuttanad on September 15 to assess the situation.

Officials had been directed to furnish all details regarding the progress made so far in the implementation of the package before the delegation's visit, Mr. Mohanan said, pointing out that almost all departments involved in the process were lagging behind.

The performance of the Irrigation Department, under which projects worth over Rs.900 crore from the entire package are included, too was not up to the mark.

Though a Special Officer had been posted, none of the other procedures were in full swing, with officials complaining about lack of engineering facilities and equipment. Fund allotment too was an issue pointed out by the officials.

Such issues would be addressed, Mr. Mohanan said, adding that the monitoring system too was yet to gain control of affairs.

Though distribution of cows and goats under the animal husbandry component of the package had begun, the delay in completion of the outer bunds was of major concern, since these stretched over 4,000 km and were crucial for the entire region. The Minister also said stone bunds would be constructed only where the recommended method of concrete piles and slabs was not possible. The ‘piles and slab' method would be used for 80 per cent of the work.

Thomas Chandy, A.M. Arif, and R. Rajesh, MLAs; and District Collector Sourabh Jain, among others, were present.