Even as the pest attack has been brought under control, the new challenge in the form of saline water is looming large over the paddy fields of lower Kuttanad, comprising mainly of paddy fields in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts such as Kaloor, Needoor, Kaduthuruthy and parts of Changanasserry.

Fr. Thomas Peeliyanickal, executive director of the Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi (KVS) said that water samples tested for salinity from the lake north west of H block paddy fields in Kuttanad showed a salinity of 3.28 Electrical Conductivity (EC), while the water samples taken from the lake from the southern side of the H paddy field shows an EC of 0.98 only. “This shows that the salinity could be reduced if the water from the southern side is pumped using motor to the north western side. And the advisable salinity level is 2 EC. Hence a scientific study was needed to control the salinity in the area,” he said.

Professor K. G. Padmakumar, associate director, Kerala Agriculture University’s Regional Agriculture Research Station (RARS) at Kumarakom said that the non-completion of bunds to prevent saline water intrusion led to the situation of saline water presence in the water of the lake. “The rainfall deficiency of 39 per cent with fall in inflow to the lake is also the reason for the salinity in water.”

Thaneermukkom bund modernization

Fr. Peeliyanickal said that the activities of modernization of the Thaneermukkom bund including computerization of the functioning of the shutters have not yet been undertaken. “The package implementation phase is now four and a half years old. Though IIT, Chennai submitted its report, no action has been taken in these regard. Farmers are alleging that fishermen have allegedly opened the bund shutters using stones. The tourism lobby is also alleged to be in favour of the opening of the shutters and intrusion of saline water so as to decompose the water hyacinth that had made navigation difficult in many parts of the lake,” he said.

He said that one of the proposals is to open the shutters of the Manimala dam and allow the waters to flow into the lake, thereby reducing its salinity. “Studies will have to be conducted before undertaking such an initiative as doubts are raised over the quantity of water required and whether the water pumped in hrough such an option may not be diverted elsewhere. The farmers here are suffering this situation year after year. The farmers whose crops are destroyed by saline water intrusion will not be eligible for insurance even,” he said.

The Chief Minister called for a meeting on Tuesday with regard to the functioning of the Thaneermukkom bund in Thiruvananthapuram.

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