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No steps taken to conserve water

G. Prabhakaran

Construction of check-dams across the Bharatapuzha delayed


State received abundant rainfall in 2010

Action plan to save river not implemented


PALAKKAD: The State government and the Water Resources Department have failed to initiate any major steps for conservation of water in the Bharatapuzha during the heavy monsoon rain in the last two months.

The State received more rainfall in 2010 compared to the previous years. The Bharatapuzha and the other rivers, Bhavani, Siruvani, Mangalam, Gayathri, etc., were in spate. The shutters of the nearly one dozen dams in the district were opened to avoid overflow.

However, with the rain receding, many stretches of the Bharatapuzha have gone almost dry. The water level in the other rivers too has come down much before the onset of summer.

It had earlier been decided to construct a number of permanent and temporary check-dams across the Bharatapuzha and its tributaries in a bid to conserve water and save the river from going completely dry during the summer months. However, only four check-dams have been completed and another two are under construction in Shoranur and Ottapalam. The Bharatapuzha is the source of water supply to nearly 170 grama panchayats in the three districts of Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur. The undue delay in completing the construction of check-dams to conserve water will cost the people dear.

Talking to The Hindu , the former director of the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission T.N.N. Bhattathiripad said: “Much of the water that is available in Kerala is washed down to the Arabian Sea owing to lack of proper storage and distribution facilities. “Kerala gets its main rainfall during the southwest and northeast monsoons and to a smaller extent through summer showers. On an average, it receives 300 mm of rain annually. At the same time, Kerala's rivers carry a discharge of 72,000 million cubic metres of water to the Arabian Sea and neighbouring States. Only eight per cent of this discharge is stored in reservoirs meant for irrigation, hydroelectric power and drinking water.''

Action plan

A Rs.560-crore Bharatapuzha Action Plan submitted five years ago by the Irrigation Department to regenerate the second biggest river in the State has been put in cold storage.

The action plan proposed the constitution of Bharathapuzha Basin Authority — a comprehensive body to manage the river system and the activities connected to it. It proposed construction of 453 check-dams across the Bharatapuzha and its four main tributaries at an estimated cost of Rs.157.50 crore. It also suggested building of 30 check-dams in Chitturpuzha; 60 in Gayathripuzha; 10 in Kalpathypuzha and 50 each in Thoothapuzha and Kunthipuzha.

The plan proposed setting up of 11 regulators costing Rs.137.50 crore.

The action plan noted that more than 4,000 million cubic metre water was flowing to the Arabian Sea from the Bharatapuzha and the total quantity of water stored in all the seven reservoirs of the basin was less than 10 per cent of this quantity.

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