20 agencies have been entrusted with mapping and sand auditing of 20 rivers in State

The Assembly Committee on Environment will keep a tab on the river mapping and sand auditing being undertaken by various agencies on 20 river systems in Kerala.

Chairman of the Committee C.P. Mohammed told The Hindu on Sunday that the committee was aware of the work on mapping of the rivers and sand auditing being outsourced to various agencies.

Fresh studies on the river systems are being undertaken as the previous study by the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) is outdated.

Though the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act 2001 identifies CESS and the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode, as the competent agencies to fix the quantity of sand that can be mined out of the rivers, 20 agencies, including NGOs have been entrusted with the tasks of river mapping and sand auditing.

Sand auditing is undertaken to ensure that sand-mining in these rivers is carried out without causing damage to the river environment.

Sources in CESS said sand auditing had to be done every three years as the river systems were dynamic and the conditions changed constantly.

However, CESS has its hands full and is not in a position to take up the work on all the rivers.

CWDRM is also not in a position to take up work on all the river systems as per the informal arrangement that the institution take up the studies of rivers in the northern part of Kerala just as CESS takes care of the rivers in the south.

The two major rivers in Ernakulam district — the Periyar and Moovattupuzhayar — were being studied by the Kochi-based Centre for Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies and the Geology Department of a leading college in Moovattupuzha respectively, Revenue Department sources said.

The river studies are being coordinated by the River Management Cell, using money from the River Management Fund constituted under the Revenue Department.

Meanwhile, sources said the river mapping and sand auditing work was in full swing and expected to be completed in January.

About 75 per cent of the work has been completed except in the case of the Moovattupuzhayar and the Karamanayar, Thiruvananthapuaram. The study on Moovattupuzhayar appears to be stalled while the river mapping work on Karamanayar has been completed and sand auditing will be taken up.