Water supply situation in Kasaragod grim in spite of summer showers

In spite of the brief spell of summer rain in north Kerala, the water supply situation in Kasaragod town is grim. Residents predominantly depend on the saline water supplied by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

Some of the 14 rivers in the district are already going dry. Subsequently, the district is faced with the depletion of groundwater level. Bore-wells are fast replacing conventional wells. Farmers are at the mercy of the rain to protect the standing crops.

The town relies on the KWA to meet its drinking water requirements. Various organisations and citizens’ groups had protested against the supply of saline water by the KWA from a makeshift check-dam at Bavikara. The KWA cited tidal action during the month as reason for the saline infusion.

The KWA water had 1,250-mg salinity, as per studies, and various organisations had staged demonstration in front of the KWA office here accusing the government machinery of failing to complete the Rs.8.20-crore check-dam at Bavikara. The project was conceived over three decades ago.

The work got stuck midway due to technical reasons and the Minor Irrigation Department, tasked with the construction, submitted a fresh proposal to the Water Resources Department on April 25. The cost was put at Rs.11.05 crore and it was awaiting nod, KWA Executive Engineer K.R. Venugopalan told The Hindu.

If sanctioned, the department would be able to complete the work by June next, he said. The stalled work could have been completed before this monsoon had the department received timely direction from the higher authorities, he said.

A senior official of the Groundwater Department disagreed with the idea of constructing a check-dam as a solution to drinking water problems.

Long-term plans, including curbs on crusher-stone units, were required. Bore-wells should not be allowed as it allows no time for replenishment of the water table, he said. The water table was now down by over a metre, the highest ever recorded in the district, he said.

There was an urgent need to accord top priority to groundwater replenishment activities. Rainwater harvesting units should be set up on the premises of houses, government offices, parks, playgrounds, and schools, he said.

The building bylaw of the Kasargod municipality mandates the setting up of such units in all houses, he added.