A special package for post-flood Kuttanad

The Kuttanad region of Kerala is a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS),as declared by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Given the topography of Kuttanad, it was one of the areas most affected by the floods of 2018. After the floods, the State government embarked on a mission to “Rebuild Kerala”. The reconstruction of infrastructure and livelihoods in Kuttanad was an integral part of rebuilding Kerala.The State Government gave the State Planning Board the task of preparing a special package for Kuttanad wetland ecosystem to revitalise the overall development of the region through the development of various components and envisaging the integration of all Departments.

Preparation for this report involved consultation with a very wide range of experts and stakeholders. The State Planning Board (SPB) consulted representatives of farmers and fish workers, elected representatives of the people, administrators and officials from implementing Departments, and experts drawn from different fields, including agriculture, engineering, hydrology, fisheries, and tourism. SPB also conducted two rounds of discussions with the experts from Netherlands who studied Kuttanad floods. The SPB team undertook visits to analyse the impact of floods and to most of the major sites where the Kuttanad Package was implemented and directly analysed the progress and lessons learnt.

The draft report was presented to the State Planning Board in October, 2019. The report proposes a blueprint for the future direction of public policy in the Kuttanad region. It tries to draw the contours of the approach that post-flood policy should adopt. The report analyses the progress made under the previous Kuttanad Package after 2007. In keeping with the commitment of the 13th Five-Year Plan, the report looks forward to making Kuttanad an area of sustainable environment-friendly economic growth with high-levels of income generation, based on sustainable and remunerative livelihood opportunities.
The report emphasises that any policy framework for Kuttanad should be geared towards:(a) Increasing agricultural growth and farmer’s incomes;(b) Building ecological resilience in the Vembanad Lake system;(c) Enabling people to live safely and securely; and (d) Resolving conflicting concerns of different socio-economic sections. In other words, productivity, profitability, ecology, security and cooperation have to be cornerstones of any future policy on Kuttanad. These are not mutually exclusive objectives and they can be attained by making use of modern technologies, scientific planning for water management, building up appropriate flood proofing systems and deepening democracy in the decision-making process. In short, it puts forward that the application of modern science and technology,and the participation of the people and Government, are the basis for sustainability.

The report which was subsequently presented to the Chief Minister of Kerala, has been instrumental in initiation of activities like widening and deepening of leading channel of Thottappally spillway, clearing of silt of smaller channels in polder region, cleaning of Vembanad lake, clearing of silt in AC canal.

Technical committee on ongoing major and medium irrigation projects in Kerala

Kerala State Planning Boardconstituted this Technical Committee to review four long-pending major and medium irrigation projects of Keralanamely (a) Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project (MVIP);(b) Idamalayar Irrigation Project (IIP); (c) Karapuzha Irrigation Project (KIP); and (d)Banasurasagar Irrigation Project (BIP).This was part of a larger initiative of the Planning Board to evaluate large-scale infrastructure projects characterised by time and cost overruns.

The terms of reference of the committee included among others 1) To assess the status of implementation of the four ongoing projects – Muvattupuzha,Idamalayar, Karapuzha, Banasurasagar – and frame a schedule for their completion. 2) To assess the need and justification for ongoing works under each project and to suggest a priority based action Plan (including dropping selected works that are in the preliminary stage or other works that are of relatively low benefit to agriculture and farmers). 3) Examine the possibility of categorising the projects into three – (a) completion of the project by additional funding (b) closure of a project with minimum budgetary support so as to get full benefit of investment (c) complete closure of works/components. 4) To suggest sources of finance for completion of projects. 5) To suggest a monitoring mechanism for the time-bound completion of identified works etc.

Beginning from July, 2017, the technical committee made at least one physical visit of each project site. Each bottleneck of the project was separately visited and studied. Discussions were held with officials of the Irrigation Department, as well as farmers, padasekhara samithies and people’s representatives in the regions covered.

The draft report was presented to the State Planning Board in August, 2018. The report was presented to the Chief Minister of Kerala. The report has been instrumental in strengthening planning of these projects in subsequent Budgets, where the process of need based work-wise allocation was initiated. As a first result, the Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project has been commissioned.

Field Visits

  • Report of the field study on Soil Mobile App, ‘MANNU’conducted at Varavoor Panchayath, Thrissur. The App was developed by Department of Soil Survey and Soil Conservation with technical support by Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITMK).
  • Report of field visit to study the functioning of Swashraya Karshaka Samithi conducted in Thiruvananthapuram district. The functioning was studied with respect to construction of building, purchase of land and use of risk fund. 3 Swashraya Karshaka Samithis (SKSs) namely at Kovilnada, Pappanchany and Vembayam were visited.

Working Group Reports for the formulation of 13th Five-Year Plan

  • Report of Working Group on Agriculture
  • Report of Working Group on Agriculture Research and ICT in Agriculture
  • Report of Working Group on Cooperation and Agriculture Finance
  • Report of Working Group on Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development including Veterinary Research
  • Report of Working Group on Fisheries
  • Report of Working Group on Irrigation and Water Management
  • Report of Working Group on Forestry and wildlife
  • Report of Working Group on Biodiversity
  • Report of Working Group on Environment
  • Report of Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Management