Kerala CM accuses Centre of backtracking on 'Kuttanad Package'

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Alappuzha, Jul 26 (UNI) Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan today accused the Centre of backtracking on the promised Rs 1,840 crore Kuttanad Package as a ''retaliation'' to the Left parties withdrawing support to the UPA Government.

Inaugurating a programme here to give interest-free loans to paddy cultivators, he said the Centre, which had earlier promised to implement the M S Swaminathan Commission recommendations on Kuttanad, was now asking the State Government to bear 80 to 90 per cent of the cost of the package.

Alleging that the Centre was taking this ''retaliatory action'' against the LDF-ruled Kerala, Mr Achuthanandan said the State Government's financial condition did not permit it to implement the Kuttanad package on its own.

The Chief Minister also alleged that the State was in the grip of a land mafia, which was buying land by paying huge prices. In the near future, it would be impossible for a poor person to buy even one inch of land in the State, he said.

State Cooperative Minister G Sudhakaran, who presided over the function, said Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi and A K Antony, who belonged to Kuttanad, should intervene to ensure that the Dr Swaminathan recommendations do not become a ''punishment package'' for Kerala.

The Union Cabinet had on July 24 given its in-principle approval to provide financial support to Kerala to implement the Kuttanad Package, evolved by Dr Swaminathan to revive cultivation in the area known as the ''rice bowl of Kerala''.

Better rice cultivation practices, promotion of natural water flow, improved dewatering operations and reducing chances of major crop loss during floods were among the major objectives of the package.

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