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College of Agriculture seeks Central aid

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Development initiatives:The heritage building on the College of Agriculture campus at Vellayani in Thiruvananthapuram.
Development initiatives:The heritage building on the College of Agriculture campus at Vellayani in Thiruvananthapuram.

Special Correspondent

Package to upgrade infrastructure facilities on the campus

Thiruvananthapuram: The College of Agriculture at Vellayani, near here, is seeking financial assistance from the Central government for a package to upgrade infrastructure facilities on its campus.

K. Harikrishnan Nair, Dean, Kerala Agricultural University, said the proposal for a master plan to develop the 55-year-old college would be submitted to the Central government shortly.

The projects highlighted in the document include an agricultural history museum; international convention centre; renovation of the heritage building (palace) and mandapam; central instrumentation facility; ICT facilities and broadband connectivity.

Preservation and conservation of the Vellayani fresh water lake and its catchment area is a major recommendation.

The Rs.50 crore package also proposes the development of farm tourism, agri business incubation centres, centre for career development and placement, agri diagnostic information and sales centre, centres of excellence in crop improvement, crop production, crop protection and transfer of technology, centre for IPR, centre for food technology and processing, centre for climate studies, school of agricultural economics and marketing and establishment of a rural home science college.

Dr. Nair said the package was envisaged as a master plan that could be prepared and implemented with the help of land and rural development consultants. “It is designed to help the State match the pace of technological advancement in the agriculture sector and utilise natural resources in a sustainable manner. The projects will help farmers to tide over the crises in production and marketing,” he said.

The package also recommends the construction of a golden jubilee gate for the campus, an international hostel, guest house, training complex and regional centre for engineering service for farm machinery and implements.

The college is finding it an uphill task to maintain the two-storeyed palace building on the campus that dates back to the Travancore era. The building houses the Dean's office, research coordination wing, National Agricultural Research Project and an academic section.

“Restoration work is complex and requires skill, expertise and funds. As a century-old building, the structure is eligible to be classified as a protected monument. But we are concerned about the conditions that would be imposed by the Department of Archaeology. We fear that the restrictions on use would severely limit our operations at a time when the institution is gearing up for major development initiatives,” Dr. Nair said.

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