THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Tuesday afternoon, poet and activist Sugathakumari received a present, which, she said, was the best ever she has received to date.
The present itself was nothing fancy, but newly harvested rice, payasam, and a ‘Kathirkula,’ all from Aranmula. The rice was harvested from fields which were to be taken over for the controversial Aranmula airport project, the Agriculture Department said. Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar called on Sugathakumari at Nandavanam to hand over the presents.
“I did not believe that it would be so easy to grow rice and harvest it in Aranmula,” Sugathakumari said, accepting one ‘para’ of ‘Aranmula brand’ rice and the other presents. The rice was harvested last month.
The airport project in Aranmula, promoted by the KGS Group, had been dropped following public protests. It was towards February-end that the LDF government launched paddy cultivation near the land originally identified for the controversial airport project.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated the venture by sowing paddy seeds. The venture was led by the Aranmula Padasekhara Samithi.
Recently, the harvest was held in 101 hectares of the total 401 hectares in this region. The payasam was prepared at the Aranmula temple using the rice. Sugathakumari requested the minister to launch paddy cultivation across the state on lands lying fallow. She also presented the minister with a copy of Mahabharatha. The rice would be used for ‘Aranmula Vallasadya’ and the Ashtamirohi Sadya, the Aranmula Padasekhara Samithi said. Sugathakumari’s daughter Lakshmi Devi, Kerala State Housing Board chairman P Prasad, and special officer of the Aranmula paddy cultivation revival programme J Sajeev were also present. The Agriculture Department had launched the Aranmula brand rice last month.