The Rs 1,850-crore Kuttanadu package that was announced four years ago is yet to make any perceptible progress on the ground.

It is learnt that there is no proper coordination among a dozen departments involved in its implementation.

Farmers’ fears

The tardy progress in its implementation has raised apprehensions among the farmers. The package recommended by the Dr M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) is aimed at mitigating agrarian distress in Alappuzha and Kuttanad wetland ecosystem.

“It is not going to achieve the desired results and may cause irreparable damage to the entire system,” some of the farmers who are attending a meeting in Kuttanad against the slow progress, told Business Line.

Tardy progress

Construction of outer bunds using granite around 19 “padasekharams” (large compartments of paddy field) has not been completed for various reasons, Father Thomas Peeliyanickal, executive director, Kuttanad Vikasana Samithy, said.

For controlling floods, the package recommended opening of the Alappuzha – Changanacherry (AC) Canal up to Pallathuruthy and this has not yet taken place in spite of support from the local people.

The package, he said, was approved by the Central Cabinet on July 24, 2008, and directed the concerned ministries to implement the components relevant to the respective departments.

But its implementation now appears to be without direction and almost departing from the recommendations of the MSSRF, Father Thomas, who played a key role in getting the package, said.

“As many as 12 government departments are concerned with the implementation of the package and each has started proposing its projects without any coordination among those involved and as a result it has become almost like the description of an elephant by a blind person after touching the pachyderm,” Father Thomas said.

Threat to ecology

In the backwaters, concrete piling and placing concrete slabs on them appears to be detrimental to the region’s ecosystem, Mr N.K.S. Nair, general secretary, Pampa Parirakshna Samithi, said.

Dumping several lakh tonnes of granite boulders and concrete pile and slabs in this fragile area will have serious ecological and environmental impact, .Mr Nair said.

On the other hand, for such a mega project, being implemented in a region that lies 2.5 metres below sea level, “no environment impact assessment is understood to have been made so far. It is an essential requirement and then only vulnerable areas could be identified, listed and accordingly all the major components of the project could be implemented,” he said.

(This article was published on July 24, 2012)
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