Kolarayar, a 6.5-km-long, 33-metre-wide dying natural waterway linking Arackal Mukhappu on the Pampa riverbanks at Kadapra with the Areethode stream leading to Pampa at Niranom will soon to get a facelift.
The Pulikeezhu block panchayat has taken a decision to rejuvenate the dying Kolarayar. When done, this once-prolific natural stream will once again transform itself into a major irrigation source for the paddy fields in the Upper Kuttanad villages of Kadapra, Niranom and Thalavady.
Large-scale encroachment, heavy siltation and lowering of the Pampa riverbed owing to indiscriminate sand-mining are said to be the major factors that led to the degeneration of this geographically
important waterway over the past three decades.
This natural, once-vibrant waterway has been degenerated into a small stream of three to four metres width. Illegal encroachment has even converted this once-perennial water source into land along several stretches, leaving the stream as a chain of stagnant pools of polluted water.
Talking to The Hindu, Eapen Kurien, Pulikeezhu block panchayat president, and Raju Pulimpallil, panchayat standing committee chairman, said, “Our effort is to regain the lost glory of Kolarayar by clearing all encroachments and ensuring its free flow as in the past.”
Mr. Kurien said the panchayat had prepared an action plan for rejuvenation of the Kolarayar and the government had approved it in principle 10 years ago. According to him, the rejuvenation of Kolarayar would help irrigation of not less than 1500 ha of paddy fields on its banks in Kadapra, Thalavady and Niranom panchayats, besides reopening the stream for water transport.
Mr. Raju said a survey team had identified as many as 25 major encroachments upon the natural stream in the Kadapra and Niranom panchayats alone. He said the bed of Kolarayar stream had got heavy sand deposits and the rejuvenation process involved removal of these sand deposit to a desirable depth. The government or the panchayat could earn revenue by the sale of sand removed as part of the rejuvenation process, he said.
P.O. Thomas Panackamattathu, a local resident, said the stagnant pools formed on the Kolarayar bed had become safe breeding places for leeches and flies. Flies breeding on the waste dumped into the stream have been posing another major health risk to the local people, he added.
Vikraman Arackal, another local resident, told The Hindu that the authorities should also ensure construction of motorable pathways along the river banks, facilitating road access to the households on either banks of the Kolarayar.
Mr. Kurien said the block panchayat had already taken up the project with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph for necessary action.
He said the block panchayat had also prepared a project to exploit the inland water tourism potential of the Kolarayar, which meanders through the historically important places of Niranom, Arackalmali, Elanjickal Church, Nerkadavu, Alamthuruthy and places that house the ancient St Thomas Church founded by St Thomas and the Devi Temple in Niranom panchayat.