THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After months of impasse caused by the pandemic, the second phase of the much-hyped Revive Vellayani initiative, which aims to protect the Vellayani Lake—the second largest freshwater lake in Kerala—will take off on Monday. The phase II of the initiative would focus on the removal of weedS from the area to the north of Kakkamoola Bund, which sprawls over 330 acres. The Inland Navigation Department recently sanctioned `18.5 lakh to clean around 60 acres of the lake. The mechanical wing under the irrigation department has floated tenders for executing the work.
Assistant engineer Padmarajan P of the wing said that the state government has allotted funds for clearing around 60 acres of the water body near Vevila Temple. “Swasthi Foundation initiated the work in December. We got the financial clearance for the project very recently. We have estimated around 1,600 hours for finishing the cleaning work. We finished 300 hours in December last year. Unfortunately following the pandemic, it was stalled. From Monday, we will resume the work,” said Padmarajan. He said that the state government will continue to fund the cleaning of the project. “It will take around six months to finish cleaning 60 acres of the lake. Once the work is over, we will take up the cleaning of another 60 acres,” he added.
Abey George, general
secretary of Swasthi FoundatioN, the NGO spearheading the project, said that it will be executed with local support. “Based on the aerial mapping we completed, close to 80 per cent of the lake surface is covered in weeds. Some are of foreign origin and unsuitable for the lake’s eco-system,” said Abey.He said that the foundation is also planning to install bird islands near Vavvamoola. “A large number of migratory birds have stopped visiting the lake and our aim is to create a better environment for them. The bird islands would be inaccessible to the public.
We are also planning to constitute a lake watch committee. The beautification of the lake would be done using the MLA fund,” he said. He added that the beautification of Vavvamoola is an ongoing project and is being executed by Christ Nagar School, Thiruvallam. As part of the initiative, the foundation is also planning to construct a cycle path around the lake. “Around 100 to 120 persons cleaned the water body for around 68 days during the lockdown. This shows how involved the local people are. Sustainable maintenance of the lake would be impossible without the support of the local residents,” he said.
A recent study conducted by the Department of Soil Science, College of Agriculture, Vellayani, revealed that over 50 percent of the lake has been cut back. The original length of the Lake was 3.20 km with a depth between two to three metres, which goes up to six metres during monsoon.
The lake meets the water requirements of Kalliyoor, and Venganor grama panchayats and Thiruvallom Division of the city corporation. Two more drinking water projects for Vizhinjam and Venganoor grama panchayats are under implementation by the Kerala Water Authority.Abey said that the department of tourism is also planning a major water supply scheme for Kovalam. “The lake is also expected to meet the water demands of the proposed container terminal at Vizhinjam. Our aim is to complete the cleaning work in 10 months time,” he added.
the main villains
Absence of a reliable biodiversity photo register
Weed growth and invasive alien species that threaten the native aquatic flora
Using the lake to dump waste including non-biodegradable items
Lack of awareness and sustainable interest among the local populace
No attempt so far to invoke the interest of International Conventions like RAMSAR convention.