The Bharathapuzha Samrakshana Samithi has demanded that the government set up a river authority for each river in the State.

In a statement here on Thursday, secretary Indanur Gopi welcomed the government move to form a river authority covering all rivers.

He said the government had decided to form a river authority for the Bharathapuzha in 1992. Though the director, CWRDM, was entrusted with framing rules, no follow-up action had been taken.

The Kerala Nadee Samrakshana Samithi had prepared a draft river authority Bill and presented it to the government with a request to form river authorities without delay. But no steps had been taken, the statement said.

“Our request is that the Water Resources Ministry be changed into ministry for water conservation and distribution. Water is a cardinal issue. Availability of freshwater is a problem and shortage of water for drinking and primary needs is an issue that the government and local bodies are facing through out the State,” it said.

“In Kerala, rivers are the major source of freshwater. We do not have rich aquifers as in other parts of India,” he said.

He cited deforestation, illegal sand-mining, unscientific land use, encroachment on riverbeds and construction of check-dams without maintaining minimum flow to provide for biodiversity of the river basin as the ills plaguing the rivers in the State.Saying that most rivers were mismanaged by departments and agencies in the State, he called for separate authority for each major river.

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