'Explore alternatives to farming'

Report on feasibility of promoting non-agricultural activities in drought-hit Kolar

'Explore alternatives to farming'

search for alternative: Union Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa speaking at a  meeting in Kolar on Saturday. DC Prabhakar and ZP CEO Rangarao are seen. dh photo

Speaking at a special meeting held in the office of the Deputy Commissioner on Saturday, the minister asked the officers of exploiting the possibilities of promoting sheep rearing, dairy farming and other subsidiary occupations as alternatives to agriculture in the district.

Observing that groundwater has depleted to alarming level endangering the livelihood of farmers in the district which lacks a permanent irrigation facility, the minister asked the officers to submit a comprehensive report on alternative avocations within January 25.

No to borewells

“Farmers should not be advised to sink borewells. Instead, they should be motivated to take advantage of the benefits available under various schemes of Horticulture and Agriculture departments,” the minister suggested.

Muniyappa said that he had appealed to the Chief Minister to formulate alternative plans for agriculture in Kolar in view of the fact that farming had become not viable due to water scarcity.

The office of the Chief Minister, in turn, has instructed the Deputy Commissioner and Zilla Panchayat chief executive officer to formulate a plan in this regard.

A meeting of elected representatives of the district will be called on January 30 to deliberate on alternative plans and bring pressure on the government to implement them. The meeting in which Zilla Panchayat and Gram Panchayat members will take part, will also deliberate on the  comprehensive development of tanks in the district.
Muniyappa revealed that a sum of Rs 112 crore has been spent in the district so far under MGREGS and it would be raised to Rs 250 crore in future.

 He suggested to divide 1,700 tanks in the district in five categories and formulate a five-year plan for desilting tanks and construction of check dams. This would help in recharge of dried up borewewlls.

The district has 4 lakh hectares of cultivable land supporting two lakh farmers. Of them 30,000 are large farmers and 1.70 lakh small and marginal farmers. The peasants should be persuaded to adopt drip irrigation system and desisted from sinking borewells for a period of five years, he directed.

Objected

However, the suggestion was objected to by a few in the meeting. They contended it costs Rs 50,000 per acre to install drip irrigation system and small farmers cannot afford to bear the expenditure. The minister promised to return to them after discussing the subject with the officers concerned.

Meanwhile, Kaiwara Block Congress president Anil Kumar expressed apprehension that the district may be blacklisted in view of large-scale irregularities in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. “Works have not been taken up in some villages despite release of crores of rupees. The scheme, which should have been labour-centric has turned out to be lucrative proposition for contractors,” he alleged.

Zilla Panchayat CEO G V Rangarao, however, defended that the the Scheme is being implemented properly in the district and advised Anil Kumar “not to level allegations without proper information.” This prompted Kumar to react stating that he would provide required information and asking the CEO to take necessary action.

The argument came to an end with the intervention of the minister. He suggested that Deputy Commissioner and ZP chief executive officer should visit the villages where works worth Rs five crore have been carried out for stock-taking and initiate action against those found guilty.

Legislators Amaresh, M Narayanaswamy, in-charge Superintendent of Police S R Phaneendra Singh were present in the meeting.

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