Special Correspondent

State-level seminar to dwell on Western Ghat Development Programme

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Planning and Economic Affairs Department is preparing to enhance the reach and scope of watershed development projects taken up under the Western Ghat Development Programme. The social development objectives of the programme will be the focus of a State-level seminar to be held here on Tuesday.

The Western Ghat Development Programme has covered 168 panchayats all over the State except Alappuzha district. It seeks to catalyse the ecological, economic, social and institutional development of the Western Ghat region through location-specific intervention by watershed communities.

The programme also involves development of watersheds by promoting programmes for forestry, research and training in related fields. Projects for the uplift of SC/ST communities and mapping of soil resources are being implemented through local self-government institutions. The watershed development programme follows a participatory approach and is integrated with decentralised planning process. Village-level watershed communities constitute the basic unit.

According to T. Bhavana, Joint Director, Planning and Economic Affairs, 168 watersheds covering 2,14,492 hectares have already been completed. This, she pointed out, was only 7.65 per cent of the Western Ghat area. Ms. Bhavana said work was progressing on 83 watersheds covering 10,576 hectares. Vice-Chairman of State Planning Board Prabhat Patnaik will inaugurate the seminar.