Steps will be initiated to form a river protection force in the state, with the joint participation of the Revenue, Police and Water Resources Departments, said Water Resources Minister P J Joseph in the Assembly on Friday.
Replying to a calling attention motion by N Jayaraj of KC(M), he also said that once the Kerala Irrigation and Water Protection (Amendment) Bill is introduced and subsequent enactment comes into force, various boards and authority would be established with the specific objective of protection of rivers and wetlands.
The Minister said that the amendment would lead to the formation of the River Basin Board, Wetland Development Board and State River and Wetland Authority.
“River mapping is going on under the aegis of the Revenue Department in all the 44 rivers flowing through the state, to prevent unauthorised sand mining and river bank encroachments. It is being undertaken using the financial allocation of the Irrigation Department and river management fund of the Revenue Department,’’ the Minister said.
Jayaraj said that most of the rivers in the state were dying owing to deforestation, sand mining, pollution, encroachments and human interventions disrupting the natural courses. The existing river bank protection laws and curbs for sand mining are being violated with ease, he added. The Central Water Commission has warned that the pollution levels in many states, including in Kerala, has exceeded limits.
The flouride content is very high in the Chaliyar river and the river Pampa is noted for high PH values. Most of the rivers are being turned into virtual waste bins, with factory, hospital and hotel waste being dumped into them, he said.
“Proper studies are not there for sand auditing or the extent of holiday which should be given to sand mining in future,’’ he said.