Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph has said here on Monday that contrary to criticism from various quarters including the Central Planning Commission, the Rs.1840 crore-Kuttanad Package was progressing on the right track.
Addressing a review meeting of the package at the Mankombu Rice Research Institute here, Mr. Joseph said no amount of criticism and negative attitudes would deter the State Government from ensuring that the benefits of the Package reached the farmers of Kuttanad and that the package would be completed in a time-bound manner.
There were dissenting voices from several quarters, including some who were “using the pretext of environmental concerns”, to suggest that implementation of the package was in shambles. This was wrong, since noted agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, who had formulated the package, himself had said that slow pace was the only shortcoming.
Stating that he was “not giving much weight” to the criticism from the Planning Commission since the member-secretary of the Commission, Sudha Pillai, had not “even bothered to call and enquire with him about the package” during her visit, the Minister said her opinion that the implementation left much to be desired had come after a “mere 90-minute visit”.
“We are adhering to the spirit imbued by Dr. Swaminathan and are committed to taking the package forward in a time-bound manner, with monthly and weekly reviews at various levels. And we will not entertain criticisms that use the pretext of environmental damage since Dr. Swaminathan has not noted any such issue,” he said.
Whatever delay that plagued the Irrigation component of the package, which constituted nearly Rs.1,200 crore worth projects of the entire allocation of Rs.1,840 crore, was because the Centre had decided to include Irrigation projects with a 75 per cent Central share and 25 per cent State share in the Central Flood Management Programme only in November 2010, more than two years after approving the package, the Minister said.
As of now, tenders were being called for projects worth Rs.379 crore in Phase I of the package while in Phase II, estimates of detailed project reports worth Rs.1,387 crore were being revised after the Centre called for revisions, he added.
Thomas Chandy, MLA, presided over. Kodikunnil Suresh, MP, C.K. Sadashivan and R. Rajesh, MLAs, and district panchayat president Prathibha Hari also spoke.