Dakshina Kannada, which was once known for paddy cultivation, has lost a considerable area under this food crop in recent years, said A. Padmaiah Naik, Joint Director of Agriculture, Dakshina Kannada.

He was speaking at a meeting here on Monday to review the progress of various development projects in the district.

Reason

Mr. Naik said that the area under paddy cultivation had come down to 32,437 hectares this year from 32,583 hectares in 2009 and 32,845 hectares in 2008. Later, Mr. Naik told The Hindu that conversion of land for non-agricultural purposes and farmers shifting from paddy to horticultural crops were responsible for this decline.

K. Santhosh Kumar Bhandary, president of the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat, presided over the meeting.

Earlier, Mr. Naik told the meeting that soil in the district lacked potash. Indian Potash Ltd. had supplied 2,423 tonnes of potash this year against the requirement of 2,830 tonnes.

Housing scheme

P. Shivashankar, Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat, told the meeting that the Government had changed the rules for selecting beneficiaries of Basava-Indira Awas Yojana and for providing finance to them for building houses. The changed rules would come into force shortly. According to them, gram panchayats would no longer be selecting the beneficiaries or disbursing payment on that account. The Government would appoint a nodal officer for every 35 gram panchayats in a taluk. If the number of gram panchayats exceeded 35, two nodal officers would be appointed. These officers would select the beneficiaries, take photographs of their land and upload the details on the website of Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation Ltd. After screening them, the corporation would credit the amount into the bank account of the beneficiary, he said.

Dropouts

C. Chame Gowda, Deputy Director of Public Instruction, said that all dropouts from the Koraga community had been re-admitted to school.

Vented dams

Mr. Bhandary said that he suspected some foul play in the utilisation of funds earmarked for the maintenance of vented dams by the Department of Minor Irrigation in the district. There was a need to conduct an inquiry into it, he said.

Reading out the details in this regard, Mr. Bhandary wondered if Rs. 34,000 was needed to fix wooden planks or shutters to a vented dam at Aggadkakaliya in Sasihithulu village. For some vented dams, the allocation ranged between Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 72,000, he said.

An official from the department, however, clarified that the allocation had been made according to the scheduled government rate.

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