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Rivers of life: How Kerala districts conserve water resources through people’s movement

While the government machinery has been a little slow to get in on the act, people have voluntarily come forth to conserve water resources in their respective areas.

Published: 29th April 2018 02:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th April 2018 06:56 AM   |  A+A-

water conservation, river
Express News Service

While the government machinery has been a little slow to get in on the act, people have voluntarily come forth to conserve water resources in their respective areas. For water is too precious to wait for government intervention. Express takes a look.

KOTTAYAM: Depletion. The term, in general, does not augur well for society. More so, if it pertains to groundwater levels. With several districts in the state reporting the phenomenon in recent years, the notion of water security in the state has taken a bit of a hit. While the government machinery has been a little slow to get in on the act, people have voluntarily come forth to conserve water resources in their respective areas. For water is too precious to wait for government intervention.

Even though many of these 'people's campaigns' are local efforts, they have managed to create a sense of awareness among the general public about the importance of water conservation.

While the voluntary initiative of a group of people to revive the tributaries of Meenachil River in Kottayam apparently exploded into a massive movement for the revival and re-linking of three major rivers - Meenachil, Meenanthara and Kodoor, the initiatives being undertaken by some NGOs in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Kannur have successfully turned into major river revival projects. Why, they have forced various government departments, like Major and Minor Irrigation, Agriculture and Local Self-Government, among others, to chip in.

Things have come to pass that even the government authorities, especially hydrogeologists, confirm such efforts will be instrumental in bettering the groundwater level of the state.

“During the monsoon, water below the amount of 10 per cent usually gets stored in the sub-surface of rivers, which keeps the rivers perennial during the summer," said V B Vinayan, hydrogeologist with Ground Water Department in Idukki.

"The public movement to revive the tributaries and streams supplying water to major rivers is certainly a crucial step towards conserving groundwater.”

At the same time, efforts need to be extended to districts where water is over-exploited, like Kasargod, Palakkad, Idukki, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram. For these areas are marked as highly critical with high groundwater fluctuation. With the 'people’s movement' making the government act in earnest towards conservation of water resources, the Haritha Keralam Mission has also come up with various projects for the same. The state and Central groundwater departments are also ready to lend support.

“Though the Central groundwater department does not have financial allocation for such projects, we are ready to provide technical assistance to such efforts,” said V Kunhambu, regional director, Central Ground Water Department.

The Varattar model

The Varattar rejuvenation programme, a successful river rejuvenation project with people’s participation, is poised for a leap. Two of the project’s three phases have been completed. Launched in 2013-14 under the initiative of Eraviperoor grama panchayat president N Rajeev, the project received a boost with the state government making a budgetary allocation. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who inaugurated the third and final phase of the project, declared the government will fund infrastructure facilities worth R40 crore for the construction of four bridges over Adi Pampa and Varattar, the tributaries of Pampa.

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