Central aid for recharging of wells, river protection

Kunnamangalam block panchayat in the district will embark on a multi-crore Integrated Watershed Management Project (IWMP) covering five grama panchayats under its limits.

The project, formally inaugurated by Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, will make use of a Central aid of Rs.8 crore to complete the initiative. Panchayat authorities hope that water scarcity in the summer could largely be addressed through the realisation of the IWMP as it aims at recharging all the wells in the project area with harvested rainwater. Also, steps to protect the two rivers flowing through the panchayat will be taken.

Under the scheme, over 15,000 hectares of land will be covered in a two-year term. The area will be covered as per a survey that was conducted recently of the five grama panchayats.

Along with the improvement of drinking water sources, development of existing irrigation water sources too will get priority under the IWMP. More canals will be constructed for farming purposes.

“To get a detailed picture of individual beneficiaries under the scheme, we will take up one more survey in all the five panchayats. This will be completed in a month,” said panchayat development standing committee chairman Vinod Padanilam.

The first phase of the survey was conducted mainly to prepare the geographical record of inland water sources, and a Central fund of Rs.27 lakh was utilised for the purpose,” he said.

During the survey, the panchayat found seven areas suitable for beginning a rainwater harvesting project. From these seven catchment areas, the water will be diverted to recharge drinking water sources.

According to the panchayat authorities, priority will also be given to launch some home-based self-employment ventures for the financially backward families in the region, utilising a portion of the Central fund. Also, plans are on to utilise the workforce of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the entire project.

The IWMP fund was granted for the Kunnnamangalam block as the region was declared a watershed project area following a proposal.

The fund has been granted to the local body with a direction to spend it within a four years.