Most water sources have dried up; water not being released for irrigation

Many parts of the district, particularly the 745-sq km stretch of the Attappady tribal belt, are reeling under severe drought condition. The failure of the southwest monsoon in June-July has resulted in the drying up of major rivers, reservoirs, ponds and wells.

A Central government team is visiting the district on October 17 and 18 to study the drought conditions. Many parts of the district, particularly areas in Chittur taluk, are facing severe drinking water shortage.

The farmers in Chittur taluk are in dire straits due to the non-availability of irrigation water, particularly the State’s share of water under the inter-State Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) agreement.

Because of the non-availability of PAP share of water, the farmers are not able to begin farming activities for the second crop of paddy.

“If the North East monsoon also fails, the farmers will be forced to abandon the second crop of paddy in 18,000 hectares of land in the Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme,” said Muthalamthode Mani, general secretary of Desheeya Karshaka Samajam.

The water in Malampuzha dam, the largest irrigation dam of the State, sufficed only to meet the drinking water needs of Palakkad municipality and the six adjoining grama panchayats, and was not released for irrigation purposes, Irrigation Department officials here said.

Because of this, the Irrigation Projects Advisory Committee in its meeting the other day advised the farmers not to take up paddy cultivation in 25,000 hectares of Malampuzha Ayacut area unless there was strong North East monsoon which was yet to become active.

In the Attappady tribal heartland, Pudur and Sholayur grama panchayats are reeling under severe drought. The rivers and streams have dried up leading to acute shortage of drinking water in 70 out of the 100 tribal hamlets in the two local bodies. The Agali grama panchayat is also facing drinking water shortage.

In areas such as Mulli in Pudur grama panchayat, nearly 300 tribal families have to walk three to four km a day to get water from str eams as there is no drinking water supply in these areas.

The tribal people used to collect water from the rivulets and streams originating from the forests. Since all these water sources have dried up, they now have to travel kilometres to collect water from the Bhavani river flowing to Tamil Nadu through the Attappady Hills.

Palur, Kulappatti, Vallavatti, Dhudigaddi, Gottiyarkandi and Thekkupana areas also face drinking water shortage.

The Ghotiyyarkandi tribal hostel is also facing acute shortage of drinking water as the nearby streams from where they used to collect water have all dried up.

Shortage of water has affected the cultivation of millet, cotton, vegetable, banana and other crops in Attappady.

Cattle rearing too hit

After agriculture, cattle rearing is the main vocation of the tribal people. The grass have all died up and there is scarcity of other cattle feed.

The tribal people are selling off their cattle as they are not able to provide them with fodder and water.

Since rivers and streams in the forest have dried up wild animals are coming out of the forests in search of water. They are intruding into the tribal hamlets posing a major threat to the people and domesticated animals in the human habitats.

  • Farmers unable to take up second farming

  • Attappady, Agali, Chittur among worst-hit areas