Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal has assured that the Centre would do all that was possible to make the Kuttanad Package a reality, provided that the “right” detailed project reports came, that too on time, from the State government.

Speaking at a reception accorded to him by the District Congress Committee here on Saturday, Mr. Bansal said the work that would be launched on Sunday on the package comprised those on irrigation projects worth Rs.143 crore. A proposal for projects worth Rs.379 crore had been submitted by the State to the Centre on August 20 and approval for this project would be given shortly.

Stressing that the projects had to be implemented expeditiously, the Union Minister said the issue of floods that had been plaguing Kuttanad for long would be settled with the implementation of these projects, which fell under the Centre's Flood Management Programme.

Assuring that the livelihood of fishermen would not be affected by regulation of water flow with barrages like the Thanneermukkom Barrage, Mr. Bansal said he would raise the concerns expressed by the fishermen with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Pointing out that the Centre was committed to renovating and restoring water bodies through schemes like the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Mr. Bansal said water was a State subject and that the Centre was only a facilitator, providing technical assistance and financial support within its limits.

Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the role of agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan in the formation of the Kuttanad Package was one that should never be forgotten. It was comforting to note that the State government's apprehensions that it would have to bear a major share of the package's financial component were now over since the Centre would fund 75 per cent of the required money.

K.C. Venugopal and Kodikkunnil Suresh, MPs; A.A. Shukoor and P.C. Vishnunath, MLAs; Mahila Congress State president Shanimol Usman; and others were also present.

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