Cultivation in the paddy fields (puncha) of Aranmula and Kurunthar was badly affected since the past 10 years due to water logging following the illegal conversion of land and a natural stream in the name of a proposed private airport, Assistant Director of Agriculture has said in a report to the Principal Agriculture Officer.
The report, submitted in October last, categorically states that nearly 95 ha of the fertile paddy fields in Aranmula and Kurunthar have turned waterlogged areas following the earth-filling of the paddy fields by a private party for the proposed airport project.
The report also says Valiyathode, a natural stream that has been functioning as a natural flood escape route between river Pampa and Aranmula puncha, too has been converted by the private party.
The Agriculture Officer also submitted reports to the higher authorities on February 28 and July 14, 2008 and on January 23, 2009, detailing the threat posing the paddy sector in Aranmula due to the hazardous land conversion. However, no effective step was taken by the authorities concerned.
AICC member flays it
Criticising the controversial airport project, Peelipose Thomas, All-India Congress Committee member and former member of the State Planning Board, has alleged that the government should take stern action against the violation of various key rules and Acts that have taken place in the name of the private airport project.
Mr. Thomas alleges criminal indifference on the part of the authorities concerned towards the violation of as many as eight very important Acts, including the Prevention of Corruption Act-1998, for the Aranmula airport project.
The Cabinet decision to take 10 per cent equity in the controversial airport project could be seen as an attempt to whitewash the irregularities and violations that has taken place at Aranmula and to protect the culprits, he alleges.
V.S. Vijayan, former Biodiversity Board chairman, said, “Farmers claim they can produce nothing less than five tonnes of paddy a hectare from the Aranmula puncha, if the present area of 1,457 ha is converted back into a cultivable state. The total production will come to 7,085 tonnes annually, and by fixing the procurement price at Rs.15 a kg, the the paddy will fetch Rs.10.63 crore. And, if it is organically produced, the total worth can be just double, nearly Rs.21 crore.”
The impact of filling and raising the paddy land and wetland area for the airport does not confine only to the earmarked 400 acres, Dr. Vijayan says.
It stretches beyond, affecting all the wetlands and paddy fields over the 3,500 acres, as there is complete blocking of water movement, he says.
The government should, therefore, not give exception, under any circumstances, for converting paddy lands and wetlands under the Kerala State Paddy Lands and Wetland Conservation Act, 2008. The provision for exception for public purpose will not be applicable here, he adds.
Paddy cultivation hit at Aranmula and Kurunthar Report cites water logging of paddy fields
Paddy cultivation hit at Aranmula and Kurunthar
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