Lack of coordination hits Periyar Action Plan

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G. Krishnakumar

KOCHI: Paucity of funds and lack of coordinated efforts among monitoring departments have forced the Water Resources Department to put the Periyar Action Plan on hold.

Efforts to include the plan under the river conservation scheme initiated by the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) have also backfired. The directorate is unlikely to accept the plan in view of the inordinate delay in the implementation of the Pampa Action Plan.

Sources in the directorate wondered how the government could press for the Periyar Action Plan at a time when the Pampa Action Plan had run into several roadblocks. The NRCD had earlier included the Pampa Action Plan under a scheme to protect major rivers in the country.

Admitting that the Periyar revival projects were moving at snail’s pace, Water Resources Minister N. K. Premachandran said that the Periyar Action Plan was pending and did not take off, as planned. The formation of the Periyar River Authority was also on the backburner, he said.

It was reliably learnt that the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) had not even finalised an inception report on the action plan identifying factors such as hydrology of the river and major sources of pollution.

The coordinating agencies, including the PCB and the Kerala Water Authority, were yet to submit reports on the water quality and environmental issues related to the Periyar River.

Major constraint

PCB officials accepted the fact that there was a lack of political and administrative will to implement the action plan. Lack of finance to support the plan was another major constraint in its implementation. The Water Resources Department officials pointed out that there was a delay in securing funds sanctioned by the Centre under various river protection programmes.

With the PCB officials yet to start work on the detailed project report on the action plan, the Government might find it really difficult to seek funds from the NRCD for the action plan.

According to the guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Directorate would sanction funds only after getting detailed project reports, with cost estimates of various sub-components of the schemes.

It was learnt that an approach paper on the Periyar revival project prepared by the board was in the cold storage for the last three years.

The paper had stressed the need to come up with specific action plans in towns or river stretch that include Kumili-Thekkady, Munnar, Adimali, Kothamangalam, Perumbavoor, Kalady-Malayattoor, Aluva, Eloor-Edayar, Kalamassery and downstream of Eloor.

It had also recommended more sanitary facilities in the upstream where faecal contamination of high degree was found.

The paper had also referred to the need for effective action against indiscriminate sand mining, riverbank protection activities and control of waste from hospitals and hotels.

But no follow-up action was taken on the paper for want of support from the Government.

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