ALAPPUZHA: Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran on Monday lashed out at the United Democratic Front (UDF) legislators in the district for boycotting a meeting convened by him to review relief works for Kuttanad farmers on Sunday.
UDF legislators K.C. Venugopal, B. Babu Prasad and K.K. Shaju had boycotted the meeting held at the District Collectorate on Sunday. They alleged that factionalism in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had forced Mr. Sudhakaran to hold a separate meeting on Easter day even though Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had held a meeting the day before.
However, Mr. Sudhakaran, in a statement here on Monday, said he had convened the meeting to ensure that the Chief Minister’s directives were implemented. Further, he was the in-charge Minister for the district, and hence was bound to review the progress of the relief works on a regular basis.
The Minister said the UDF MLAs should desist from politicising the plight of rain-hit paddy farmers in Kuttanad.
The district administration has made arrangements to bring together labourers from different parts of the district to begin harvest of paddy from Tuesday. District Collector V.K. Balakrishnan will take the initiative in the endeavour by leading a team of labourers to harvest paddy from the Marthandam backwater paddy fields, near R-Block of Kuttanad.
Mr. Balakrishnan told The Hindu that the damage due to the unseasonal rain, in Kuttanad’s paddy fields alone was estimated at Rs.39.21 crore till March 21. The damage caused to other agriculture in areas including Upper Kuttanad, Onattukara and Cherthala were being assessed.
Paddy from 10,386 hectares is still to be harvested. Procurement of the harvested paddy is also gaining momentum. He said 24,000 tonnes of paddy had been procured so far. Of this, 16,000 tonnes were of the first quality while 8,000 tonnes were reported as sprouted and with damage due to moisture.