Discontent brewing in Aluva over illegal tapping of water

Residents’ associations petition Collector over drawing of water from 22 wells

Discontent is brewing among a section of the population in Aluva municipality after several wells dried up in the area, allegedly owing to the unauthorised tapping of ground water.

As the situation worsened, three residents’ associations – Sangeetha Sabha Road Residents’ Association, High Road Residents’ Association and Shanthi Nagar Residents’ Association – joined hands to form Boogarbha Jala Samrakshana Samithi (Groundwater Conservation Committee), Aluva, earlier this month.

The committee has petitioned District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla against the unauthorised drawing of water from 22 wells on private properties. The wells are spread over wards 9, 10, 12, 18, 19, 21, 22 and 23 of the municipality, out of which notices have been issued to 14 property owners.

Team formed

Mr. Safirulla said a team has been entrusted to look into the allegation and warned of stern action in the event of any wrongdoing. He said arrangements were in place to fill 250 tankers per day from Aluva, 120 from Maradu, 25 from Paravur, 10 from Muppathadam and 10 tankers per day from Choondy at a nominal cost of ₹60 per 1,000 litres. “Water can be tapped for commercial purposes only from a list of empanelled wells cleared by the Groundwater Department,” said Mr. Safirulla.

In an order issued earlier this month, the District Collector had made it clear that water could be drawn and distributed in tankers only from water sources approved by the district administration and the departments concerned.

Sebi D. Bastin, councillor and patron of the newly formed committee, alleged that most of the illegally tapped wells were along the banks of the Periyar and disturbed the natural replenishment of the river.

“The illegal activity has now been developed into a business model of sorts as evident from the fact that some of the 22 wells were dug very recently,” he said.

Ashok Pandalam, who till recently was the president of Sangeetha Sabha Road Residents’ Association and part of the National Campaign for Right to Information, alleged that water was being drawn from all the 22 wells in violation of all norms and regulations including the Kerala Ground Water (Control and Regulation) Act and without the permission of the local body.

“We were accommodative as long as the water was used for drinking purposes in water-scarce areas or even flats or malls. But now it is distributed for swimming pools and construction sites as well. Indiscriminate transportation of water in heavy tankers also takes its toll on roads and the aged water pipes beneath,” he said.

Sources at the Groundwater Department said a preliminary inquiry had been conducted into the complaint of illegal drawing of water. But they declined to share details on the ground that the report would be handed over only to the Collector.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:42:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/discontent-brewing-in-aluva-over-illegal-tapping-of-water/article22671944.ece

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