Tough days ahead for the district, say officials

Gross mismanagement of potable water and its supply systems, and utter neglect of water bodies continue to be the bane of Thiruvananthapuram district as it gears up to battle the drought at its doorstep.

Many local bodies are yet to come up with anti-drought measures. The panchayats had been asked to submit projects that could help ease the impact of the drought before January 14, but only 48 out of 73 grama panchayats have so far submitted reports.

Even as the scrutiny of these projects is on at the District Collectorate, certain ground realities have emerged, firm and clear. There are more defunct hand-pumps in the district than working ones, a majority of public open wells and ponds are polluted, and more disturbingly, precious little has been done in this regard despite the situation remaining the same for the past several years.

The District Administration, based on the reports that came till January 14 and on overall evaluations, submitted its report to the government and now, was continuing to receive projects from the other panchayats, which will be submitted as a second report.

Sources in the district administration told The Hindu that of the 48 reports received, only 16 could be termed well prepared. The rest, the officials said, were merely namesake projects.

These reports also reveal that many parts of the capital district are in for a tough time this summer. At the Vellarada panchayat, for instance, 32 of the 37 hand-pumps are defunct. In Amboori, the situation appears worse; only three of the 36 hand-pumps in the panchayat are in a working condition. At Vilappilsala, only seven of the 25 pumps are operational.

The condition of ponds in almost every panchayat was pathetic. While Chirayinkeezhu has reported 78 polluted ponds, Kuttichal has reported 50. At Kilimanoor and Panavoor, 46 ponds each have been deemed polluted for use. In Vellanad, the figure is 71.

The condition of overhead water tanks was stated to be satisfactory in most panchayats, but the condition of water pipelines was again, replete with complaints.