After a long ambiguity, the Kuttanad Package, one of the most financially cumbersome packages suggested for any agricultural region in the State, looks finally to be on its wheels.
The package was in an indeterminate state, with the Centre finding no existing scheme to accommodate the projects that catered to the unique geographical features of Kuttanad. A majority of projects, worth a total of Rs.290 crore, were returned to the State with no scheme available to include them for funding purposes. However, if official statements made here on Saturday were any indication, it might have been two schemes of the Centre itself that helped bring the package back on track.
One was the Flood Management Programme, which puts 90 per cent of the financial responsibility on the Centre and the rest on the State. Included in this was the package’s most crucial project, one for provision of infrastructure for padasekharams (polders), and requiring about Rs.836 crore, roughly 45 per cent of the entire budget for the package.
A Rs.31 crore pilot project, including 14 padasekharams in Nedumud and five from Payipad near Changanassery, has been prepared after discussions with the Central Water Commission to be tried under this programme.
Apart from this, the relatively new Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is expected to set rolling many of the smaller projects that hitherto did not find any suitable scheme to be included in. The State will receive Rs.100 crore every year under this scheme and projects meeting that budget will be implemented accordingly. The State’s Food Security Mission is also expected to accommodate some of the projects.
Meanwhile, out of the projects worth Rs. 90 crore that were submitted so far, projects worth Rs.17 crore have been given approval, including them in a few existing Central schemes. A Seed Village project (Rs.4.5 crore); a Animal Husbandry project for purchase of 3,000 cows (Rs.9 crore, Rs.2.5 crore already released); a study on renovation of the Thanneermukkom Barrage and Thottappally Spillway by the IIT, Chennai (Rs.35 lakhs); a horticulture project (Rs.6.4 crore) and Rs.15 lakhs for removal of water hyacinth are some of these.
Officials said a few more projects, worth Rs.20 crore, would soon get approval using the same schemes. From the farmers’ view point, with the State also allocating Rs.174 crore for renovation of the AC Canal and a few other projects, all these developments have meant that the Kuttanad Package, after months of uncertainty, is finally in motion.