Experts seek campaign for river protection

The Kuttiyadi river. The 74-km river originates from the western slope of the Wayanad hills.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP

Experts have called for a proper river management system and a campaign to protect rivers in the wake of the recent floods that devastated the State.

“Protecting rivers is part of a comprehensive disaster management strategy being developed for the district. But more mitigative and preventive measures need to be taken in the light of the floods witnessed in August,” Regional Town Planner K.V. Abdul Malik told The Hindu here on Monday.

Kuttiyadi, Korappuzha, Kallayi, Chaliyar, Beypore, and Kadalundi are the prominent rivers in the district that have been literally abused for quite some time. At the same time, the authorities have not worked out a network of water system to provide cheap transport facility. There is a continuous inland water route connecting Vadakara with Ponnani which is part of the west-coast canal system connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Hosdurg. But the government has not been able to tap the potential of the backwaters of Kuttiyadipuzha in Vadakara.

“Two of the biggest issues in river management are encroachment of banks and illegal mining. Besides, there is rampant pollution of waterbodies. People have no respect for water unlike in foreign countries where rivers are considered precious,” Dr. Malik said.

Experts seek campaign for river protection

K. Saseendran, geologist and professor at the National Institute of Technology - Calicut (NIT-C), said that the government should stringently impose rules if it was serious about protecting water resources. “Real estate lobbies, through political manipulations, have gone to the extent of reclaiming paddy fields, thus taking a toll on rivers as well. Now, the question is how to vacate the encroachments in the wake of floods,” he added.

Quoting the Central Water Commission on the flood situation in the State in August, Dr. Saseendran said that dam management had not been faulted for landslips. “Landslips cannot recur since the overburden has been washed away and redistributed,” he informed.

Centre for Water Resources Development and Management executive director A.B. Anitha, who is also a river hydrology expert, said that the flooding was only part of river management. “The government has already adopted measures to protect river banks and take proactive steps to curtail sand mining,” she added.

However, Dr. Anitha felt that the vanishing paddy fields had a direct bearing on water levels in domestic wells and canals. Water would not have its natural flow when mountains are razed. “But citizens have to be educated on river management to prevent damage in the future,” she said.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 11:35:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/experts-seek-campaign-for-river-protection/article24919590.ece

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