Staff Reporter

`Two per cent of State population lives in poverty'

ALAPPUZHA. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the State Government planned to implement new projects in agriculture and animal husbandry sectors despite financial crisis to address the problems of poverty and unemployment in the State.

Inaugurating a function organised by the Animal Husbandry Department at Neerkunnam here to mark the opening of 23 new veterinary hospitals in the State, Mr. Chandy said studies conducted by the State Government had found that as many as two per cent of the population in the State was living in utter poverty and was experiencing starvation. As many as 40 lakh educated youth in the State are unemployed, he added.

The Chief Minister said big industries or foreign investment could not solve the problems of the destitute population and agriculture and animal husbandry were the only sectors that could benefit them. The people who were going through starvation included families that had only very old people, handicapped persons, mentally challenged and widows, Mr. Chandy said. A major part of such people had nobody to help them, noted the Chief Minister.

Mr. Chandy said the cabinet had sanctioned 100 new posts in the animal husbandry sector despite the reluctance of the Government to create new posts as it would help to implement projects for the destitute people.

The Chief Minister said veterinary hospitals would be opened in the newly formed panchayats in the State also if the animal husbandry department demanded so. Mr. Chandy said the Union Government would help the State implement new projects in agriculture and animal husbandry sectors. He said he had discussed the issue with Union Minister for Agriculture Sarad Pawar and Mr. Pawar had expressed his willingness to help the State.

Minister for Agriculture K.R. Gowri, who presided, said the number of buffalos in the State had decreased from 4.87 lakhs in 1956 to 64,618 in 2003. Shortage of fodder was one of the main reasons of the dwindling buffalo population, she said. The Minister said the efforts of the Agriculture Department to encourage paddy cultivation would increase the availability of hay for the buffalos.

Minister for Tourism K.C. Venugopal inaugurated the project of the State Government to distribute buffalos to the farmers of Kuttanad. The Minister said Kuttanad offered favourable conditions for the healthy growth of buffalos and the project would help the farmers there to increase their income. Secretary, Animal Husbandry Department Subrato Biswas welcomed the gathering. The director of the department B Asok explained the details of the project.