District demarcated based on drought severity to devise projects

The summer impact in Malappuram district can directly be measured from the flow of three major rivers and their tributaries.

While the Bharatapuzha and the Kadalundipuzha have dried up, the pace of the Chaliyar has slackened. However, the district seems to be faring better than the previous year in dealing with the summer and related drought.

The situation in 2013 was alarming largely because of the shortage of rainfall (1,742 mm) it got in 2012. In 2013, Malappuram got 3,135 mm rainfall, much more than the district’s annual mean rainfall of 2,793 mm.

Some of the measures the district took in the last couple of years too have paid dividends this summer. “The drought in Malappuram is not as harsh as we expected this time,” said District Collector K. Biju. Having learned several lessons from the past, the district administration prepared a Drought Mitigation Plan for this year. Malappuram, according to Mr. Biju, is the only district which prepared such a plan.

Choosing carefully

According to this plan, prepared by the district administration in conjunction with all stakeholders, including civic officials, the district has 14 critical panchayats and two critical municipalities. Similarly, 13 panchayats and two municipalities have been included in the semi-critical category.

The district administration has received hundreds of proposals for projects to be implemented for drought mitigation, and Mr. Biju and his team are studying each proposal. “We do not want to waste the money. We will ensure that the sufferings of the needy are mitigated at any cost,” Mr. Biju said.

The grama panchayats of Marakkara, Muthuvalloor, Kondotty, Vengara, Tirurangadi, Wandoor, Thuvvur, Thrikkalangode, Areekode, Angadipuram, Moorkanad, Pulamanthol, Thazhekode and Vettathoor, and the municipalities of Perinthalmanna and Manjeri have been identified as critically drought-prone areas in the district.

Seven schemes

It has identified seven water schemes being implemented by the Kerala Water Authority, 753 check-dams and 3,195 micro irrigation schemes and cleaning of waterbodies being implemented under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and several other repairs proposed by the Kerala Water Authority.

As many as 90 water kiosks are being set up across the district. Water is being supplied in tankers at six points in Malappuram municipality. Only those projects with potential to benefit many people are being taken up initially.

“Drought is slowly setting in here,” said Mr. Biju. A random move through the district proved him right.

“It is not as severe as last year,” said Mohammed Mustafa, a farmer from Nilambur. “We cannot clamour for water for irrigation when drinking water itself is a problem,” Mr. Mustafa said.

Crops wither

Paddy fields and plantations across the district are parched. Coconut farmers have been complaining of premature drying of nuts. “Summer heat dries up the nuts too early, incurring a loss to us especially when the price of coconut is fairly good,” said P.K. Aboobacker, a coconut farmer from Tenhipalam.

Many check-dams constructed in the Kadalundipuzha last year proved vital for the mitigation of drought in the district this year.