THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A model watershed conservation project has begun in Pullampara grama panchayat in the capital with the active participation of the local community. It aims at recharging the groundwater through a slew of programmes and also livelihood projects for local communities.
This is a pilot project of the state mission of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for soil and water conservation in the state. Titled ‘Neeruravu’, the first phase of the project is being implemented in the Chullalam watershed under the Pullampara panchayat. Programmes for recharging of water resources, including house wells and income generation for the people will be implemented in about 266 hectares of land falling in the Mukkudi and Chullalam wards, according to panchayat president Rajesh P V.
A GIS-based survey is the first work wherein details of water resources, land holdings and crops would be recorded. “Projects to rejuvenate the water resources are given priority. All wells under the project area would be recharged free of cost. Compost pits and soak pits will be also built at households,” Rajesh said.
All the works will be executed through the MGNREGS programme. The project will also see a shift in the course of the MGNREGS which, so far, were scattered works such as farming and public road improvement works. The ‘Neeruravu’ is a comprehensive project involving activities for environment conservation, scientific farming and sustainable livelihood.
‘Neeruravu’ will cover four watershed areas in the panchayat in phases, Rajesh said. “The asset development works will significantly improve the income of local communities. Eligible families will be given assets free of cost. They would be cowsheds, poultry sheds, goat sheds, azolla tanks, biogas plants, compost and soak pits. Support will also be given for fodder grass cultivation,” he said.
One lakh fruit bearing trees would be grown as part of the project. “We are highly optimistic of the programme. The panchayat once produced surplus agricultural products and had sufficient drinking water for all households. But now we face a severe drinking water shortage during summer. The project will help us resolve the issue in a couple of years,” Rajesh said.
The water conservation activities will be undertaken in the catchment areas as part of a massive programme for rejuvenating the Vamanapuram river. The pilot phase of the river conservation project is in Pullampara, where 12 kilometres of the river flows through.