Natural bar prevents lake water from flowing into sea

For the first time in more than 18 years, people living in the beneficiary panchayats experienced no water scarcity this summer. All of them are thankful to a natural bar that developed across the Paravur estuary.

As a result of the natural bar, water from the lake stopped flowing into the sea this summer. It enabled the Paravur Lake to maintain its level and also preserve the water brought into it by the feeder Ithikara River. This in turn boosted the water level of the Kappil and Nadayara lakes in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The latter two lakes are linked to the Paravur Lake through a manmade Maniyamkulam canal. In fact, all the three lakes, the canals, and the Ithikara River of this geographical zone had plenty of water this summer. It also helped the vast Polachira marshy lands, near Paravur, to remain richly hydrated.

Many beneficiaries

This phenomenon enabled people living in the grama panchayats of Pooyapally, Velinellur, Adichanallur, Ithikara, parts of Mayyanad, Chathannur, Chirakkara, Boothakulam, Polachira, Elakaman, Edava, and the Paravur municipal area see plenty of water in their wells and other water sources this summer.

It was the completion of the repair works to the shutters of the Paravur Lake spillway which brought about this phenomenon. The spillway was constructed in 1963 to prevent salinity of the Paravur Lake through the estuary. This was to enable farming in the belt during the summer months too by preventing inflow from the sea.

There are eight shutters at the spillway and these prevented the inflow from sea during summer.

The shutters used to be opened during the monsoon to help prevent flooding by enabling the lake to let out water into the sea through the estuary.

But in 1996, some of the shutters developed a snag and would not close. It remained like that till the repairs were taken up some time back and completed now.

During the faulty period of the shutters, the spillway remained virtually opened and it resulted in the free flow of water both ways, very often the lake losing water more than it was supposed to lose. This caused saline infiltration from the sea and affected farming plus the ecosystem of the wetlands linked to the lake.

Projects under threat

But now with the fault of the shutters rectified, things returned to almost what it used to be in the past. But during the interim period, tourist projects came up along the lake and the salinity led to shrimp farms coming up in the area. There are allegations that some of the tourist projects were constructed after reclaiming portions of the lake.

Now when the lake began to swell, many of the reclaimed portions went under water threatening the tourist projects.

A section of the tourist project managers and shrimp farmers made an attempt last week to breach the bar that had developed across the estuary.

This was to enable the water in the lake to flow into the sea so that the projects and shrimp farms could be saved.

People up in arms

But the people living along the beneficiary areas gathered at the estuary point in strength and prevented the breaching of the bar. Those who came to breach the bar left the scene when things began to deteriorate into a law and order problem.

Surprisingly, officials from the Irrigation and Revenue Departments and the Paravur municipality, who should have intervened in the matter, stayed away. The people of the area said that they would not allow anyone to breach the bar.

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