Consolidated report from taluks expected by Monday

Panchayats across the district will be on an overdrive the next few days, preparing projects that could help mitigate the impact of the drought that is predicted to gain severity in the coming months.

After the recent district-level review meeting chaired by Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, who is the Minister in charge of the district, taluk-level meetings were held on Friday in all five taluks. Panchayat presidents and other local body representatives and officials from all 12 block panchayats and 78 grama panchayats were asked to prepare drought-mitigation and preparation projects. They would be submitted to the District Collector early next week and in turn, to the government, for approval. Projects requiring less than Rs.5 lakh will be cleared by the Collector himself.

Taluk-level officials said the preliminary round of project preparation was already going on and panchayats were, on Friday, given further guidelines on what sort of projects they could focus on for better results. The primary objective, as of now, was to save water during distribution, identify wastage, and maintenance and repair of existing supply and distribution networks. Some of the potential works that could be taken up as projects and which were discussed during the meetings included de-silting of ponds; renovation of public wells, streams and canals; construction of check-dams; and options for re-charging of ground water and new open wells.

In Neyyattinkara, where drinking water shortage is a perennial dilemma, tahsildar M.K. Sreedharan Nair said panchayats were asked to identify hand pumps that had been defunct for long. There were several instances where water supply in one region was affected owing to such pumps, which could be repaired. There were also several areas where repairs were not done for several years together, resulting in the area facing a water shortage. Smoothening out such basic bottlenecks was expected to make a huge difference, he said, adding that steps were also discussed to identify drinking water projects that were announced by the Kerala Water Authority, but which had never seen the light of the day.

“If we start reviving those now, we might be able to be in a strong position by the time the drought gets severe in March-April,” Mr. Nair said. Panchayats have also been asked, as a last resort, to identify areas where such projects were not feasible or possible, and to think of supply of water via tanker lorries.

A consolidated report from the taluks is expected by Monday, after which the same would be submitted to the government, District Collector K.N. Satheesh said.