A sum of Rs. 176.98 crore has been sanctioned for development of kole land, P. C. Chacko, MP and head of the Thrissur-Ponnani Kole Development Council, has said.
This is the first instalment of the funds for the kole development package. The instalment comprises Rs. 123.52 crore from the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), sanctioned by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) on July 19, and Rs.53.46 crore from the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
The total allocation for the kole package over three years will be Rs. 429 crore (Rs. 300 crore from RIDF, Rs. 114 crore from RKVY and Rs. 15 crore from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research).
Mr. Chacko told reporters here on Thursday that the package would help double rice production in kole land. “Right now, farmers engage in ‘oruppoo’ (one harvest a year) farming. This should be changed to ‘iruppoo’ (two harvests a year) cultivation.”He announced that the first instalment would be used mainly for infrastructure development. “‘Iruppoo’ farming is possible only if new bunds are constructed along a 126 km stretch. After the structural details and drawings of the bunds are finalised, tenders will be invited,” he said.
He said traditional irrigation systems in kole land such as ‘petti’ and ‘para’ had been found to be inefficient. “Their power consumption is high. More than 1,000 such systems should be replaced by vertical flow pumps. The Council is working in close association with scientists of the Kerala Agricultural University in this connection,” he added.
He refuted the argument of the Kole Karshaka Sanghom that the Council was merely an advisory body and did not have executive powers. He cited a government order dated July 19, 2013, which stated that the Council had full executive powers.
Kole wetlands, which cover an area of 13,632 hectares in Thrissur and Malappuram districts, account for about 40 per cent of the State’s rice production. They extend from the Chalakudy River in the south to the Bharathappuzha in the north. It is a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance, designed under the Ramsar Convention.