The Pampa Parirakshana Samiti (PPS) has accused the State authorities of criminial negligence and adopting a lackadaisical attitude towards the persistent efforts made by the Tamil Nadu government, pressuring the Union government, to implement the controversial Pampa-Achenkovil-Vaipar Link Project (PAVLP) on a war footing basis.
Talking to The Hindu, N.K.Sukumaran Nair, PPS general secretary, alleged that the Kerala government had failed to take any proper initiative to protect the interests of the State at a time when Tamil Nadu was trying to implement the project by exerting pressure at the Centre as well as in the apex court.
The Centre had constituted a high-power committee to implement the National River Linking Project on the basis of the Supreme Court order of February 27, 2012. Ironically, the Kerala government had failed to present its case properly and counter the arguments of Tamil Nadu when the hearing was under way in its final stages, he alleged.
He said the PAVLP, if implemented, would eventually lead to serious drinking water crisis in the Central Travancore region and Kuttanad.
The project proposed diversion of 634 million cubic metres (mcm) of water from the Achekovil and Pampa rivers to the Vaipar river basin in Tamil Nadu on the basis of certain ‘manipulated' study reports stating that the two Kerala rivers carry excess water, alleged Mr Nair.
The preliminary studies conducted by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) show that the Pampa and Achenkovil have got a total surplus water of 3,127 mcm. The project would be beneficial to Tamil Nadu as it could irrigate 91,400 ha in the drought-prone areas of Tirunelveli, Chidambaranar and Kamarajar districts, besides generation of 500 MW electricity, he said.
Pampa is the third largest river in the State with a catchment of 2,235 sq km and Achenkovil is another river that joins the Pampa at Veeyapuram in Alappuzha district to empty out into the Vembanad lake. The Vembanad wetland system has been declared a Ramsar site in view of its rich aquatic ecology.
Both the rivers are considered the lifeline of Central Tranvancore as well as the Kuttanad region and any diversion of water from it would lead to an environmental disaster, said Dr Thomas P.Thomas, environmentalist and professor at Kozhencherry St Thomas College.
As per a study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management in 1998, the total annual utilisable yield of the 10 rivers draining out into the Vembanad wetland system was 12,582 million cubic metres (mcm) against the water demand in these river basins for domestic use, irrigation, industrial purposes, etc, was 22,268 mcm.
Mr Nair says that the CWRDM study also states that the Pampa and Achenkovil will have a deficit of 337 mcm and 459 mcm respectively by 2051. It further stated that not less than 4745 mcm of water is required for flushing out the pollutants from the Vembnad wetlands into the sea.
Mr Nair says the pollution level of various water sources in Kuttanad has become much high and the alarming reduction in the fresh water flow and subsequent changes in the hydro period would bring about irreparable damage to the Vembanad wetland system. Mr. Nair said the PAVLP, if implemented, would ultimately lead to the destruction of the State’s two major river systems, Pampa and Achenkovil, and the State should take steps to check y moves to implement the project.