Rs.92 crore for building check-dams and digging borewells

The State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to impose a one-year moratorium on recovery of agriculture loans and waive interest for one year as part of drought-relief measures.

The Cabinet sanctioned Rs.92 crore for building check-dams and digging borewells and Rs.498 crore for replacing defunct and leaking pipes across the State.

The Cabinet met in the evening specially to discuss drought relief and price rise.

Briefing the media on the Cabinet decisions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the decision on moratorium and waiver of interest would apply to cooperatives.

Scheduled banks would be requested to provide the concessions since the State had been declared drought-hit.

The State Level Bankers’ Committee would meet on February 5 to discuss the matter. Mr. Chandy, Finance Minister K.M. Mani, and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash would attend the meeting.

The Chief Minister said that all revenue recovery proceedings on agriculture loans would be stopped as part of the moratorium. The banks would be told to reschedule the loans after one year.

Mr. Chandy said that Rs.85 crore would be released to districts by the Revenue Department for drought relief. A Minister would be in charge of each district and would decide on use of the funds.

The City Corporations, municipalities, and panchayats would be granted Rs.25 lakh, Rs.10 lakh, and Rs.5 lakh, respectively.

They would be given sanction to take up drought-relief works. Measures would be initiated to harvest water by digging sand formations and deepening of rivers and by making barrages using sandbags across rivers and streams.

Of the Rs.92 crore sanctioned, Rs.79 crore would be spent for building check-dams and the balance for digging borewells. These funds would be found from the Budget. Additional funds would be sanctioned where necessary.

A committee headed by Chief Secretary K. Jose Cyriac had been asked to identify the source of funds. The committee had also been told to find the funds for the replacement of defunct pipes.

A sum of Rs.52 crore would be allocated to the Kerala Water Authority for repair of pipelines. The Chief Minister said the Cabinet had discussed the drought situation in each district.

The discussion on price rise was inconclusive. The Cabinet would meet on Monday to continue the discussions and take decisions to control the prices.

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