Kerala Kaumudi Online
Sunday, 23 January 2022 11.36 PM IST

Rivers are thinning


The rapid decline in water levels in dams and rivers by the time it is January is a cause for concern. Despite the rainfall of more than sixty per cent than the normal this year, if this is the case now what will it be during the hot summer months. There is no need for any other evidence to show the negligence and laziness of the state in the protection of water bodies and dams. Despite heavy rainfall, the water level rises and falls into the sea. Rivers are getting thinner and thinner for a variety of reasons. Their ability to absorb excess water is declining. The condition of the dams is no different. The water level in the dams is not even half of the storage capacity.

The Vamanapuram river in Thiruvananthapuram district, which supplies water to many villages, has started drying up. The thinning of Vamanapuram and Chittaur will affect about a dozen of fresh water supply schemes. Rapid thinning of rivers pose a threat to fresh water supply schemes in all districts. There is a lot of talking about water conservation during the rainy season and when the water sources dry up in the summer. The amount of water that the monsoon brings can only be seen being drained out. As the rivers dry up, the water level in the wells in the adjoining areas also begins to fall rapidly. The result will be a shortage of drinking water. Many small water supply schemes are in crisis and a large number of people flee for want of drinking water. This is happening in a land rich with 45 rivers, freshwater lakes and numerous other lakes. There are 38 drinking water projects on the Vamanapuram river alone. As the water level in the river recedes, many of these will come to a standstill. River encroachment and illegal sand mining are leading to the destruction of rivers. Another thing is widespread pollution. Kerala is one of the states which has enacted strong legislation for the protection of water resources. But there are a very few unpolluted rivers or streams here. No one has been heard of being prosecuted for polluting the river.

If the storage capacity of the dams can be increased, summer water shortages can be met. Moreover, floods can be controlled to some extent. To this end, a plan has been devised to store more water by removing the sand and silt accumulated in the dams. If the sand from the dams was collected and sold, at least Rs 1,000 crore would have gone to the exchequer every year. The project, which has been lying on paper for fifteen years, has not yet come to life. The proposal come alive during every flood and severe summer. And in the days of abundance of waters it shall be forgotten.

It is said natural disasters should be reminders. Despite many floods, there has not yet been a healthy approach to dams and rivers. Steps should be taken to make river conservation more practical by implementing the proposed schemes and formulating new ones. In this connection, the existence and growth of the state should not be overlooked.

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