Centre must revise parameters for State to declare Idukki drought-hit, says Prasad

The drought situation in Idukki, which resulted in heave losses to cardamom cultivators, is unprecedented, says Agriculture Minister

Published - May 16, 2024 08:23 pm IST - IDUKKI

A team including Agriculture Minister P. Prasad and Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine visit drought-hit cardamom plantations at Vellaramkunnu, Kumily, in Idukki on Thursday.

A team including Agriculture Minister P. Prasad and Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine visit drought-hit cardamom plantations at Vellaramkunnu, Kumily, in Idukki on Thursday. | Photo Credit: JOMON PAMPAVALLEY

The parameters set by the Union government is posing a significant obstacle to declaring Idukki district drought-affected, Agriculture Minister P. Prasad has said. Addressing the media after inspecting the affected areas, primarily comprising cardamom plantations, in Idukki on Thursday, Mr. Prasad reiterated the State government’s call to the Central authorities to revise the drought parameters.

“The Central authorities have set certain parameters, including the patterns of the northeast and southwest monsoon, to declare a region drought-hit. These parameters were set earlier, and Kerala, along with several other States, has already sought a review since the situation is unprecedented,” Mr. Prasad said.

“This year, the State experienced a heatwave, resulting in severe losses to the cardamom sector. There is no direct correlation between rainfall patterns and drought. The heatwave activities are unprecedented,” the Minister said.

‘Send special team’

He said the State government would request the Centre to dispatch a special team to assess the drought situation in the State, particularly in Idukki. “Only a visit by a special team can confirm the reality of the drought situation in the State. Financial assistance from the Centre is crucial to mitigate this crisis,” Mr. Prasad said.

Accompanied by Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine, Mr. Prasad led a team that toured the drought-affected cardamom-growing areas in Idukki. The tour commenced at a cardamom plantation at Vellaramkunnu and passed through areas in Vallakkadavu and Kanchiyar.

Farmers’ demand

The team convened a meeting at Kattappana, which was attended by representatives of various sectors, including farmers and officials from the Agriculture department. Farmers sought immediate action to halt banks’ revenue recovery and waiver on interest on loans.

Representatives of farmers’ associations alleged that the Agriculture department had underestimated losses in the cardamom sector. Officials said a special team had submitted a preliminary report on the losses.

Mr. Augustine said the district was facing drought for the first time and stressed the necessity for projects to alleviate the situation.

Attendees at the meeting included Peerumade MLA Vazhoor Soman; Udumbanchola MLA M.M. Mani; Devikulam MLA A. Raja; and Communist Party of India (CPI) district secretary K. Salim Kumar.

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