Staff Reporter

Downturn in prawn and fish population in Vellayani lake

Vellayani Lake important for its biodiversity

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Management Action Plan (MAP) prepared by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) for the Vellayani wetland system has called for tightening measures against sand-mining in Vellayani Lake and has warned that the lake’s water is becoming unsuitable for drinking.

The Rs.26-crore MAP was released at a seminar on ‘Conservation of Wetlands in Kerala: Challenges’ organised here on Saturday by the CWRDM sub-centre and by the wetland technical unit of the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment.

The seminar was inaugurated by Chief Secretary K. J. Mathew.

According to information made available by the CWRDM, the action plan would be implemented over five years.

The MAP has identified sand-mining as the “most monstrous face” of the lake’s deterioration and suggests that the people-police patrolling be effectively done; that the registration of boats that ply the lake be made compulsory; and strong legal action be taken against those who indulge in illegal sand-mining. Efforts should be made to make the local people aware of the seriousness of the problem.

Measures

There should be a ban on drainage outlets opening into the lake. The use of fertilizers and pesticides in the fields surrounding the lake should be controlled and the people living around the lake should be sensitised against the dumping of household/poultry waste into the lake. Controlled fishing needs to be done to improve the quality of the lake’s water, the MAP says.

Rampant encroachments around the lake have caused the lake itself to shrink and this, in turn, has led to a sharp reduction in the habitat of freshwater fishes. The downturn in the fish and prawn population of the lake has adversely affected the livelihood of those who depend on fishing for a living.

The major components of the MAP controlling encroachments are agro-forestry, soil and water conservation, sustainable agriculture development, pollution abatement, de-silting, freshwater fishery development, fixing an operation schedule for water withdrawal from the lake — including quality assessment, monitoring and improvement, weed control, conservation of the flora and fauna, ecotourism, creating awareness and formation of user groups for management of the wetland.

Biodiversity

Vellayani Lake is important for its biodiversity and is of great socioeconomic value to the local community. Long-lasting sustainable utilisation, conservation and management of this resource hinges on effectively addressing the seemingly conflicting demands of biodiversity conservation, community utilisation, agriculture and other developmental activities, the MAP points out.

More In: KERALA | NATIONAL