The government will take steps to protect the Sasthamcotta Lake, the largest fresh water lake in the State.
Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachadran told The Hindu on Friday that the government proposed to bring an Ordinance to form a statutory authority for protection of the lake. The government had already initiated steps to amend the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act to provide for formation of Sasthamcotta Wetland Board. However, adopting of the Bill by the Assembly would take time.
The Minister said the government had formed a committee to prepare a comprehensive plan for conservation, management and wise use of the Sasthamcotta Wetland System. The committee, headed by the Executive Director of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode, had been asked to submit a report in three months.
Mr. Premachandran said the government also proposed to commission a water balance study by the CWRDM. (The study would assess the quality of water that could be safely withdrawn from the lake for water supply during different seasons). The Collector had been asked to ban illegal clay and sand-mining from the lake and mining of hillocks in the catchment by June 15. Besides, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) had been asked to remove solid waste and weeds from the lake area urgently. An amount of Rs. 3 crore would be allocated to the authority for this purpose.
The water level of the lake had come down considerably during this summer and the Minister convened a conference at the Secretariat on Wednesday to discuss the drying up of the lake. The proposals for a master plan, water balance study and other measures were mooted at the meeting.
Study of environmental impact
The conference decided that a competent agency should be entrusted with a study of the environmental impact of removal of silt from the lake. Urgent action should be taken to carry out soil and water conservation measures such as contour bunding, gully plucking and bio-fencing in the catchment.
It also decided to establish waste water treatment units at Bharanikkavu and Sasthamcotta town, bathing ghat with waste water treatment unit near the Sastha temple and washing and bathing ghat with waste water treatment unit at West Kallada. Disinfection of about 100 wells in the catchment would also be taken up. Besides, a campaign to achieve afforestation of catchment would be taken up through people's participation.