Staff Reporter

Says it could affect the ecological balance of the place

ALAPPUZHA: The Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi (KVS), a farmers’ forum here, has raised concerns over plans to use stones to construct outer bunds for padasekharams (paddy polders) in Kuttanad as part of the Rs.1,840 crore-Kuttanad package.

In a statement here, KVS executive director Thomas Peelianickal said the construction mode of outer bunds for padasekharams, one of the biggest projects included in the package could turn detrimental to the ecological balance of the region if stones were used for the purpose instead of concrete slabs.

The project, he points out, has been prepared by the Minor Irrigation Department and is intended for 641 padasekharams in Alappuzha district, with the construction to cover about 2,000 km. The construction for padasekharams in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts will cover about 1,000 km.

Fr. Peelianickal says that the stones, when deposited into the waterbed as part of the construction, will become too heavy for the waterbed, which is mostly sludge in the region. The total weight, once construction for the total length of 3,000 km is over, on the waterbed will be around 110 lakh tonnes, which could be thousands of times more than the carrying capacity of Kuttanad, he says.

The best option for the construction, considering ecological conservation, would be to follow the designs used way back in 1950 for the Alappuzha canal and the Karumadi canal, where the concrete slabs used then still stand strong after all these years, he says, adding that even the Major Irrigation Department, while preparing projects for parts of the Alappuzha-Changanassery Canal, the E, H and R Blocks, the Marthandam, Rani and Chithira kayal paddy fields among others, has recommended concrete piles and slabs.

The same method should be followed for the outer bund construction for the padasekharams, he feels. The other drawbacks of the stone construction would be that they could be easily damaged by boats, apart from the possibilities of sinking into the sludge, taking down the entire bund along with them, he warns.