The Joint Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) for Sasthamcotta Lake in Kollam district has directed the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to limit exploitation of water from the depleted lake.
BMC chairman V. Venugopala Kurup, who is also the president of the Sasthamcotta block panchayat, has shot off a letter to the Managing Director, KWA, highlighting the need to impose curbs on the unscientific exploitation of water, in view of the irreversible damage to the ecology of the lake, a Ramsar site since 2002. The letter calls on the KWA to reduce the intake of water by 40 per cent within a month.
“The indiscriminate extraction of water by the KWA has caused the lake to dry up. As a result, the groundwater level in the neighbouring areas has gone down considerably. The lake is also contaminated with sewage and solid waste dumped by residents in the vicinity,” the letter says.
Accusing the KWA of doing nothing to address these issues, it warns that the lake would cease to exist in a few years if the situation is allowed to persist. “As the watchdog of local biodiversity and natural resources, the joint BMC is bound to raise a legal challenge to the unscientific exploitation of water by the KWA.”
The letter also directs KWA to pay a certain portion of the value of the extracted water to the joint BMC to fund biodiversity conservation.
7 crore litres
Mr. Kurup told The Hindu that the KWA extracted 7 crore litres of water from the lake a day to supply water to Kollam town and surrounding areas. “A Rs.17-crore proposal to construct a check-dam at Kadapuzha as an alternative source has been bogged down in the absence of budgetary allocation.”
He said the BMC would move the High Court if the KWA failed to respond to the letter and take action.
K.P. Laladhas, Member Secretary, Kerala State Biodiversity Board, said the BMC, as a statutory body, was empowered to intervene in the issue that involved the ecology of the lake and the local biodiversity.
The joint BMC has representatives from the Sasthamcotta, East Kallada, and Mainagapally grama panchayats.
In 2013, the government had approved a package of proposals to mitigate the pressure on the lake by tapping the Kallada and Pallickal rivers as alternative water sources for Kollam town and the Chavara-Panmana areas. An action council for the protection of the lake said the package remained in limbo.
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