Officials intervene to stop destruction of the river

The Kodungarapallam, a tributary of the Siruvani, has been diverted and large expanses of it encroached upon at Anakatti, on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, in Attappady, threatening the very existence of the river.

The destruction of this river could affect drinking water supply in Coimbatore since its water goes to the Siruvani, water source of that city.

On complaints from the local people, the Sub-Collector of Ottappalam, S. Karthikeyan, visited the area last week and stopped the reclamation of the riverbed on Saturday.

Some farmers from the Tamil Nadu side allegedly used heavy earthmovers to divert the river and dumped soil from demolished hillocks on its sandy, granite-filled bed. Now the refilled land is being sold as plots, says Vasantha Iyer, resident of the area, who had filed a complaint with the Sub-Collector.

She told The Hindu over the phone from Anakatti on Sunday that the river had been diverted through her land adjacent to the encroached riverbed. “First, the river was diverted as its water flow got reduced after the rain. Then, they removed the sand and granite coming up to five feet. The encroachers demolished the hillocks under their possession on the Tamil Nadu side and brought the soil to fill the diverted riverbed.  They are offering the filled riverbed as plots for Rs. 2 lakh a cent,” she said.

Ms. Iyer said that she filed complaints with the Sub-Collector and the Assistant Special Officer for Tribal Development in Attappady, V .Krishnankutty. They visited the site and directed that filling the encroached riverbed be stopped. But during nights, the encroachers used heavy machines to fill the remaining encroached areas.

The 12-km Kodungarapallam originates from the Varadimala Hills of Attappady and join the Siruvani at Koodapatty flowing within the Kerala border.

Crores of rupees had been spent under the Rs. 219-crore Japan-aided eco-restoration project implemented by the Attappady Hill Areas Development Society to rejuvenate the river that had gone dry from wanton deforestation, encroachment and illegal sand-mining, M. Sukumaran of the Attappady Samrakshana Samithi says.

He has urged the government to conduct a joint survey by the departments of Forest, Water Resources and Revenue to prevent the encroachment.

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