Government clears Rs.12 bn Idukki package to bring relief to farmers


Idukki (Kerala) : Hopes have brightened for farmers in Kerala’s hill district of Idukki, as the central government Thursday cleared the much-awaited Rs.12-billion package to give a huge boost to the crisis-stricken agriculture sector.

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This comes close on the heels of the the Rs.18.4-billion Kuttanad package, which was approved by the central government in July this year.

The farmers in Idukki, a district known for tea, coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, have been under stress for a few years now due to crop failures, and have demanded the central government announce a special package on the same lines of the Vidarbha package.

Following several requests from the state, the central government first appointed agricultural expert M.S. Swaminathan to prepare a detailed report on the agriculture sector of the district.

The government’s decision comes after Swaminathan submitted the report, in which he recommended a Rs.18.76-billion package.

“Yes, this is going to be a big boon for the various problems in the agriculture sector in Idukki and this would give a boost,” Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters.

Added state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala: “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has kept his word. It was only last week we were in Delhi demanding the speedy implantation of the package.”

With the package cleared, the ball is now in the state government’s court, which will have to prepare a detailed project report on the implementation programme.

“We hope the Achuthanandan government will not sit on the project proposals like they delayed the Kuttanad package by over three months,” Idukki district Congress president and former legislator P.T. Thomas said.