Rs.44.19-crore proposal for check-dams yet to see the light of the day

After a first-hand experience of severe drought-like conditions in the district this year, a Rs.44.19-crore proposal to construct check-dams to preserve the water table is yet to see the light of the day.

The district wing of the Minor Irrigation Department had collected data following a detailed survey of locations of the district’s water bodies, which saw a sharp dip in the water table.

A proposal was sent way back in May 2013, at the peak of the summer, to construct check-dams to stop ground water depletion and rejuvenate water table.

But the district’s proposal is yet to find response though the neighbouring Malappuram was sanctioned 17 check-dams for an estimated Rs.10.15 crore on the Chaliyar river basin as per the proposal of the Minor Irrigation Department.

The district’s proposal includes 14 check-dams in the Chaliyar river territory falling within the Kozhikode taluk at an estimated cost of Rs.8.72 crore.

The proposal for check-dams from Kozhikode is urgent as it spreads across major sources of drinking water, including Korapuzha. In Korapuzha, the Minor Irrigation Department has proposed 13 check-dams at a cost of Rs.23.58 crore.

The department has asked for 21 check-dams at Kuttiyadi, at a cost of Rs.9.46 crore, and in certain parts of Mahe. Sources say the department has sought Rs.2.43 crore to construct check-dams at the Vadakara municipality, Eramala, and Chekkiyad panchayat.

Officials say the proposal was drawn after a government call to focus on the construction of more check-dams in the State. They say it was part of a long-term arrangement to conserve water to avoid drought situations in the district.

Check-dams recharge water resources and also make it possible for farmers to access water for irrigation. The rise in the water table will recharge irrigation wells. Check-dams across supply channels slow down the accumulation of silt in major dams and maintain storage levels.

Lacklustre approach to the district’s demand comes despite a March-2013 survey by the Groundwater Department of 54 sample wells across the district showing steady depletion in groundwater level, ranging from 1 m to 20 cm.

Indiscriminate consumption, growing rate of urbanisation, and resultant factors such the levelling of paddy fields have brought down the groundwater recharge capacity.

That this depletion in the water level is seen consistently across the district is apparent from the survey figures of the department taken over the past three years. For example, official statistics show that in Kodiyathur panchayat, the groundwater level was 6.04 m in March 2011. But in March 2012, the water table decreased to 7.11 m. This year in March, the levels dipped to 8.36 m.

Similarly, at Elathur, the water level was 6.18 m in March 2011; 6.39 m in March 2012; and 6.87 m in March 2013.

In the Vadakara municipality, the water table slipped from 4.80 m in 2011 to a marginal high of 4.78 m in 2012, only to dip again to a three-year low of 5.02 m in 2013.

Again in Cheruvannur-Nallalam panchayat located within the Corporation limits, groundwater availability has dropped from 3.47 m in 2011 to 4.25 m in 2012, and finally to 4.65 m in March 2013.