Staff Reporter

Thrissur: The District Administration will hold a regional meeting of the ‘water community’ on June 16 and 17 in association with the United Nation’s Solution Exchange.

The UN’s Solution Exchange initiative builds ‘Communities of Practice’ by connecting people with similar concerns and interests through email groups and face-to- face interactions. The objective is to harness the country’s vast knowledge pool. Much of the knowledge remains undocumented, out of the reach of practitioners and in danger of being forgotten.

The United Nations agencies in India support this knowledge-sharing initiative to improve development and help achieve the objectives of India’s Five-Year Plans and Millennium Development Goals.

Water is one of the eleven Communities of Practice established by the UN’s Solution Exchange.

Well recharge

The ‘water community’ has elicited response from the public on several aspects of ‘Mazhapolima’, a participatory well recharge programme being implemented by the district administration in association with panchayati- raj institutions at a cost of about Rs. 1,500 per open well.

‘Mazhappolima’, launched on July 4, 2008, costs Rs. 92 crores. The programme has largely been financed by households. Funds have also been channelled from a few decentralised projects.

“The programme was marked by informed decision-making, a menu of simple technical choices. The overall goal of the programme is to improve the health and welfare of communities through improved access to drinking water,” said District Collector V. K. Baby.

‘Mazhappolima’ included training for overseers of grama panchayats and publication of a technical manual.

Financial support

“The outcome of the programme has been encouraging. Commercial banks have come forward in support. Private companies have started implementing the programme. The State Government has announced Rs. 2 crores for the programme and released Rs. 1 crore as the first tranche. The NABARD has agreed to support one coastal block. Under the national watershed programme, three blocks have adopted open well recharge as a key project,” said Mr. Baby.

About 71 per cent of the population in the State relies on wells for drinking water. The aggregate household investment in the State on wells is pegged at Rs. 1,800 crores, and they have a combined yield of 6.6 million cubic metres per day. It makes available about 197 litres of water per capita per day (lpcd), well above the governments

prescribed norm of 140 lpcd.

Groundwater levels

“Despite an annual rainfall of 3,000 mm, the majority of wells go dry in summer. Groundwater levels in several blocks have fallen sharply. Saline intrusion adds to the problem,” observed Dr. Baby.

Speakers at the ‘water community’ meeting include Local Self-Government principal secretary S. M. Vijayanand, Dara Johnston, Nitya Jacob, Terry Thomas, Guru Nathan, Janaka Rajan, Leo Saldanha, K. A. S. Mani, P. K. Thampi, John Mathai and E. J. James.