When they set out to revitalise a fallow piece of land, hardly did they expect the problem of water scarcity to put a spanner in their works. A group of students, part of the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit at the Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Pappanamcode, who have taken up cultivation in 30 cents of land near their college, are now facing a water crisis owing to a blocked canal, part of the Neyyar irrigation project.

The students started cultivation on a part of the Koliyakkode paddy fields, stretching to 7 hectares, last December. They took up the entire work of preparing the field, which has been lying uncultivated for the past two years, and sowing. But since February, they have been facing a severe shortage of water. They have been depending on a garbage-filled waterbody and wells in nearby houses for watering the crop. But now with water level in the wells reducing rapidly, the students are doubtful whether they can harvest the crop as expected in April.

They say that the main reason for the stoppage of paddy cultivation here was the clogging of the Neyyar irrigation project canal a few years ago with garbage. At present the water reaches only till Nemom and due to two major blocks at the Vellayani studio and the Vidhyadhiraja Homoeo College, the water does not reach till Pappanamcode.

In what is seen as an after effect of the clogging of the canal, as many as 11 ponds in the Nemom area have almost dried up in the past few years. Though an amount of Rs.14 lakh was allocated to clean up the clogged canal, the contractor who took up the work left it half way through. Re-tendering processes has also not happened.

The students fear that the continuing water scarcity will result in the entire paddy field going back to the fallow state, which might pave the way for real estate lobbies to fill it up.