The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to depute a three member committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar to study the farmers’ suicides in Wayanad district.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after the Cabinet meeting that a scientist from the Kerala Agriculture University and a professor from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University would be members of the committee. The committee would be asked to submit its report in a week. The committee would look into various aspects of the problem. Revenue recovery measures against farmers would be suspended until December 31.

The Chief Minister said that the government had decided to bring legislation to extend the time specified in the Panchayat Raj and Municipalities Acts for filing of expenditure accounts by members elected to local self governments. More than 2000 elected representatives had not filed their returns within the specified time frame of three months. As the government did not want a mini election upon their disqualification as members for failure to file their returns, they were being given another chance by extending the time limit to 15 months.

The Cabinet had also decided to recommend an Ordinance to protect the Government Chief Whip and the Opposition Leader from disqualification on the ground that they were holding offices of profit. The initial legal opinion received by the government was that there was no ground for disqualification and this view had been communicated to the Governor. However, some quarters were maintaining that the positions would be considered as offices of profit. Hence, legislation is proposed with retrospective effect excluding the posts from provisions relating to office of profit. Similar legislation existed in the case of Ministers.

The Cabinet had also resolved to form a regulatory authority for water supply and irrigation on the lines of the electricity regulatory authority. It would regulate tariff and other matters connected to the services as recommended by the Finance Commission. Legislation would be brought to form the Authority.

The Kerala Tolls Act would be amended to exclude roads and bridges costing not more than Rs. 5 crore from toll. Currently, works costing more than Rs. 1 crore attracted toll. The amendment would apply to ongoing collection of toll. Collection would be dropped in the case of bridges that originally cost only Rs. 5 crore. A law would also be brought specifying norms for installation of escalators in the State.

Mr. Chandy said that the Cabinet had approved the rules for formation of the proposed hill area development agency and coastal development agency. The original proposals for forming authorities were changed to facilitate funding from government agencies and financial institutions.

It had also approved the proposal submitted by the State Electricity Board for revision of salaries and allowances of its employees.

About two cents of land near Chandrasekharan Nair stadium in Thiruvananthapuram would be allotted for installation of a statue of late Congress leader K. Karunakaran. Additional Director General of Police S. Pulikesi would be promoted as Director General of Police.

Bharati, a woman worker of Amballoor Chitra Tile Factory, who lost both her legs in an accident at the factory, would be paid Rs. 5 lakh as solatium. Rs. 2 lakh each would be paid to the next of kin of Anoop of Panaveli (Thrissur) who was murdered, and overseer Sivadasan of the State Electricity Board who died from electric shock while repairing a power line at Areacode (Malappuram).

(EOM)