Pokkali farm issue: Collector to convene meeting
District Collector and Pokkali Land Development Agency chairman P I Sheik Pareeth has said that he will convene an emergency meeting of senior officials of Revenue, Fisheries and Agriculture departments on Tuesday to discuss the repeated instances of the destruction of the Pokkali farming in the district.
A few days ago around 15 acres of Pokkali cultivation was destroyed in chellanam. Based on a complaint filed by the Pokkali Protection Forum, the collector had ordered an inquiry into the alleged destruction by a committee consisting of Revenue and Fisheries officials.
According to the complaint, Pokkali cultivation was damaged by prawn farming mafia in certain fields that alternate between Pokkali and prawns.
“There are several complaints that certain organised groups are destroying the Pokkali cultivation, which is integral to the biodiversity and social ecology of the coastal area. According to the Paddy conservation Act, it is mandatory that Pokkali should be cultivated in those fields that alternate Pokkali and prawns. The farmers are given subsidies for doing Pokkali cultivation. So any attempts to destroy the cultivation or evading from cultivation is illegal. The district administration will seriously deal with the instances of violation of the Paddy Conservation Act. The meeting on Tuesday will finalise the strategies to prevent the instances of the violations,” he said.
Saleena George, Principal Agricultural Officer, Ernakulam said that the department is pledged to revive and protect the Pokkali cultivation in the district. “I have given clear directions to all concerned officials from our department to take extra effort in the case of Pokkali. Currently, the department is distributing a subsidy of `10,000 per hectare to the farmers who cultivate Pokkali. The subsidy is part of project that encourages the cultivation of the special variety rice,” she said.
Indu B, agricultural officer, Chellanam, said that she did not receive any formal complaints from the local farmers or local Padashekhara Samitis so far about the destruction. “Based on media reports, I have formally sought an explanation from the Samiti,” she said.
However sources in the Agriculture Department said that, this year there was a striking decline in the funds available for the agriculture. “The Finance Department is delaying several files and it sometimes affects the routine function of the department,” a official said.
Meanwhile, sources in the Pokkali Protection Forum said that there is an organised prawns and real estate mafia that is trying to destroy the Pokkali agriculture.