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Updated: April 16, 2013 01:54 IST

UDF seeks fast drought-relief work

Special Correspondent
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Chief Minister Oommen Chandy greets Kerala Congress(B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai at a UDF high-power committee meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. Mr. Pillai is attending the meeting after a gap of 20 months. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy greets Kerala Congress(B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai at a UDF high-power committee meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. Mr. Pillai is attending the meeting after a gap of 20 months. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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Concerned at the pace of drought-relief works, the United Democratic Front (UDF), on Monday, recommended strong measures for fixing responsibility for official lapses in their implementation.

The high-power committee of the ruling front, which met here in the evening, directed the State government to take urgent steps to ensure that the State effectively utilised the Cauvery Tribunal award of 30 tmcft of water.

The committee suggested strengthening the drought-relief works at the grassroots level. The government should direct the revenue divisional officers to convene conferences to monitor the utilisation of funds and inspect trouble spots.

“There should not be any delay in implementing the relief works citing shortage of funds. The government has asked to extend all financial assistance wherever required,” UDF convener P.P. Thankachan said at a press conference after the meeting.

The Chief Minister will review the works again soon, he added.

With regard to the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project agreement, the ruling front wanted the government to once again request the Tamil Nadu government to release the 3 tmcft of water Kerala should get.

The meeting gave political clearance to the government to file a case in the Supreme Court if Tamil Nadu did not meet the demand.

It was Kerala Congress(B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai who brought up at the meeting the State government’s failure to utilise the Cauvery Tribunal award.

Attending the committee meeting for the first time in the past 20 months, Mr. Pillai pointed out the dangers if the State failed to utilise the 30 tmcft of water.

“The Tamil Nadu government’s demand for the unutilised quantum of water will then have to be conceded,” he said.

He pointed out the problems related to the State’s demand for release of water from the Aliyar-Sholayar rivers, and wanted the government to ensure that the water from Aliyar was released to benefit farmers in Palakkad district.

Mr. Thankachan said the UDF recommended the utilisation of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for drought-relief works, with focus on repairing ponds, wells and canals. Repairs of check-dams should be given importance. Rainwater harvesting should be made compulsory for new buildings. Paddy cultivation should be encouraged. Drinking water should be supplied in far-flung areas using small vehicles.

Load-shedding

The UDF asked the government to direct the Kerala State Electricity Board to fix load-shedding times in all places. The random times in some places were affecting pumping of drinking water.

Mr. Thankachan said the drought-review meetings yielded such a feedback.

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph represented the Kerala Congress(M) in place of Finance Minister K.M. Mani. Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer stood in for Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty representing the Indian Union Muslim League.

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