Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave in-principle approval for providing financial support for the development of the Kuttanad wetland eco-system in Kerala as part of a rehabilitation package for farmers in suicide-prone districts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.

The development programmes would be implemented as per the suggestions of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission . The Kerala government will identify the activities to be undertaken and submit the proposals to the Union Ministries and departments. The main aims of the intervention would be to promote natural water flow, dilute pollutants, enhance ecological health and minimize chances of major crop loss during flood, through improved dewatering operations.

It would also seek to promote better rice cultivation, with reduction in the cost of cultivation and switching over to the one-rice-one-fish farming mode, and strengthen knowledge-based decision, with access to all-round information. Among other things, it will seek to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism in the area reached a wider community and emphasise on increased fish production, improved livelihood for the fishing community, etc. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan welcomed the decision. The government, he said, would expeditiously do whatever it was supposed to do for the implementation of the package.