Though the government is harping on tapping the potential of natural resources and quarries to tackle the severe drought the local bodies are yet to do so. In Chendamangalam panchayat, the potential of a quarry in Kottayil Kovilakam which has the capacitAy to supply about two crore litres of water is yet to be exploited, thanks to the apathetic attitude of the panchayat authorities.
The water has been drained, the District Collector is ready to grant `5 lakh from his funds to clean the quarry for the follow-up work but the panchayat is least interested in implementing the project.
Irked by the attitude, the locals cleaned the quarry at their own expense. “It took us about 46 hours and `32,000 to pump the water out. We did this about a month ago,” they said.
They are even prepared to take an estimate. “Since the panchayat is not ready to make the estimate, we contacted the minor irrigation department and they prepared the estimate of about `15 lakh. The District Collector cannot grant the promised `5 lakh until the local body takes the responsibility,” they said.
District Collector P I Sheik Pareeth said that he could transfer the fund only if the request comes through the proper channel.
“Either the local bodies or the Kerala Water Authority has to acknowledge it,” he said.
Only when questions were raised about the project, the irresponsibility of the panchayat came out. “We conducted a survey on the potential of the quarry as a water source,” said Mani Peter, president, Chendamangalam panchayat. The officials from the Ground Water Department also tested the water, she said. But the residents said that the panchayat is unduly delaying the work as the testing would take less than two hours.
The residents also alleged that though V D Satheesan MLA had promised to cooperate with the work, he is yet to support it. The MLA was not available to comment.
Environmentalist C M Joy who had visited the site earlier said that there is a high chance of detecting springs in the quarry. “The presence of bamboos around the quarry is an indication that it will have springs beneath. It can be used to store rain water,” he said.
Excise Minister K Babu said the government is ready to grant permission to any projects put forth by the local bodies. “I will take up the issue with V D Satheesan MLA and do the needful,” he said.