Land under paddy cultivation is said to be shrinking by 100 acres every year

Chief Executive Officer of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat K.N. Vijay Prakash said here on Friday that the panchayat has sent a proposal to the government to include paddy planting under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to encourage the cultivation of paddy in the district, which was on the decline.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of Karnataka Development Programme Review Committee to asses the progress of development works in Dakshina Kannada, he said if the government approved the proposal it would ensure wages to agriculture labourers engaged in paddy planting under the MGNREGA. This could help increase the area under paddy cultivation in the district.

Earlier, an official from the Department of Agriculture told the meeting that the area under paddy in the district had been shrinking by about 100 acres a year for the last three years. It was because agricultural land was being used for commercial purposes and also paddy growers were switching over to horticulture crops.

Yellow leaf disease

An official from the Department of Horticulture said that the yellow leaf disease (YLD) had hit areca plantations spread over 2,156 hectares that came under the limits of five gram panchayats in Sullia taluk in the district. He said that 96 farmers whose plantations had been affected by the disease had come forward to take up inter-crop cultivation at those plantations. The official said the department could extend financial help to them only if they took up inter-crop cultivation without cutting the areca palms hit by the disease.

He said that oil palm cultivation would be taken up on 30 hectares of land in the district in different taluks.

President of the panchayat K. Koragappa Naik, who presided over the meeting, said there was no point in re-planting areca saplings after cutting the palms hit by the disease. It was because the disease recurred, he said.

Mr. Naik pointed out that a primary school building at Elneer, a backward village where Maoist activities persisted, in Belthangady taluk was in a dilapidated condition. He feared that it might collapse if not repaired.

Mr. Naik instructed the Education Department officials to inspect the building.

Mr. Prakash said that all anganawadi buildings in the district would get electricity connection by the end of this month.

Earlier, A. Shakuntala, Deputy Director, Department of Women and Child Welfare, told the meeting that of the 1,605 anganawadi buildings in the district, 482 had power connection. Wiring had been completed in 400 buildings. Electrical works were in different stages of completion in the remaining buildings.

Mr. Prakash instructed executive officers of taluk panchayats to open help lines by the end of this month to address complaints regarding drinking water supply. It should have a toll-free number. The executive officers and assistant executive engineers (AEEs) of the taluk panchayats would be held responsible if they failed to address the complaints, he said.

School for child labourers

The Department of Labour opened a school at Kuttar Padavu on the outskirts of the city, for rehabilitating rescued child labourers a month ago, an official from the department has said.

The official told the monthly meeting of Karnataka Development Programme Review Committee here on Friday that now the school did not have any student as child labourer had not been found since then. Its maximum intake would be 50 children.

The school was managed by Bala Samrakshana Kendra, a non-governmental organisation, he said.

Upset by the absence of the Divisional Controller of Mangalore Division of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation at the meeting, the president of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat K. Koragappa Naik instructed the member secretary of the committee to issue a notice to the official.

The member secretary and the Chief Executive Officer of the panchayat K. N. Vijay Prakash said he would not tolerate heads of the department sending their juniors for the meetings from next month and it would be deemed that they were absent.