Staff Reporter

Terms its approach to the Rs.1,840-crore package lethargic

Alleges that panels formed to oversee implementation of package not meeting regularly

Says Centre ready to set up paddy procurement and storage centre at Kuttanad

ALAPPUZHA: Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas has termed as ‘lethargic' the State government's approach to the implementation of the Rs.1,840-crore Kuttanad Package.

Inaugurating a farmers' gathering organised by Deepika daily and the Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi at Mankombu near here on Saturday, Prof. Thomas said the State government's moves were sluggish and that the three committees constituted to oversee the implementation of the package, including the Kuttanad Prosperity Council headed by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, were not meeting as frequently as they should.

The M.S. Swaminathan Commission had submitted the Kuttanad Package to the Union government on May 8, 2008, and the Centre had granted approval on July 27 the same year. The committee to monitor the package at the Central level was meeting at least once every month, but the council had met only three times so far, he alleged.

Stating that there were 35 projects spread over various sectors of agriculture and allied areas in the package, Prof. Thomas said the State had so far given details of only 10 of them. Further, the lack of coordination and differences of opinion between various departments were also delaying the package. It was the council's responsibility to ensure coordination between departments, he said.

It was natural that the norms stipulated for Central schemes sometimes did not tally with projects prepared under these schemes by the State government. The Centre was ready for compromises in such cases, with the only requisite being that the State should convince the Centre of the need for such compromises, thus paving the way for smooth implementation of the projects.

Announcing that the Centre was ready to set up a paddy procurement and storage centre at Kuttanad along with a mobile soil testing facility, the Minister said the Centre would act as soon as the State submitted the required project reports.

Prof. Thomas lamented that several agricultural benefits from the Centre for farmers were not reaching them.