The district is reeling under severe drought as its three main rivers Bharathapuzha, Bhavani and Siruvani have dried up at many of its stretches creating both drinking and irrigation water problems in many areas.
The drastic decline of water level in these rivers and its tributaries had affected many drinking water projects. Though all the ten major dams of the district were full and some of them were opened to avoid overflow during the last monsoon, most of them now have very little water left affecting both the irrigation and drinking water supply across the district.
In Ottapalam, the Kerala Water Authority is not getting enough water for its drinking water projects and is going for constructing a temporary check dam. But water experts like T.N.N. Bhattathiripad, former Director of Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, said it was too late because the check dam should have been constructed earlier when there was enough water in the river. Once the river dried up there was no point in constructing check dam.
The water shortage has hit farming operations in Chittur taluk and has affected standing paddy crop in the area. The Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme could not get the required water from the inter-State Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP). Tamilnadu authorities have agreed to release only 160 million cubic feet of water for Chitturpuzha for the month of March which is most inadequate to meet the demand.
In the tribal heartland of Attappady Hills, there is acute shortage of drinking water as Bhavani and Siruvani have very low level of water. Eastern Attappady is the worst affected. The people of Pudur and Sholayur panchayats have to trek several kilometers to find the drinking water source.
People mainly depend on borewells for drinking water and in some cases, these have also dried up.
Many drinking water schemes taken up in Attappady by Kerala Water Authority, Jalanidhi and local bodies failed to provide water to the people in this summer.
The Rs. 8 crore Agali drinking water scheme of Attappady Hill Area Development Society (AHDS) scheduled to be commissioned last December is still under construction.
Drought has become an annual phenomenon in the district. The delayed responses by the State government and the district administration are grossly inadequate. Despite demands from farmers, the general public and environmentalists, there have been no attempts for long term measures to tackle this permanent problem every summer.
A ‘Drought Preparedness and Mitigation Plan’ was prepared in 2004 by the District Administration in association with the concerned departments and experts which is now in cold storage while the district faces tough days ahead.