Kerala

Pampa-Vaipar project may set off another water war

A summer view of the Pampa from the foothills of Sabarimala and (right) the Achencoil from Konni in Pathanamthitta district.

A summer view of the Pampa from the foothills of Sabarimala and (right) the Achencoil from Konni in Pathanamthitta district.  

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Experts say Central Kerala may see an eco-disaster, socio-economic crisis

The Tamil Nadu government pushing for implementing the proposed Pampa-Achencoil-Vaipar River Link Project (PAVRLP) on a priority basis has already caused rancour and concern among a section of environmentalists and experts in Kerala.

This is one of the key items in the 29-point memorandum that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Some of them, who spoke to The Hindu , maintained that Kerala, especially its central part, may see “something close to an environmental disaster and a socio-economic crisis” if the project was implemented.

The river-linking scheme was prepared by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) as part of a Centrally sponsored project. The project, estimated at Rs.2,588 crore, is among the eight that populate the proposed interlinking programme.

The PAVRLP envisages diversion of 634 million cubic metres (mcm) of water from the two major Kerala rivers, Pampa and Achencoil, for irrigation in the water-deficit Vaipar basin in Tamil Nadu.

The Pampa Parirakshana Samiti (PPS) alleges that the NWDA finding that the Pampa and Achencoil have surplus water of 3,127 mcm was based on ‘certain manipulated study reports.’

PPS general secretary N.K. Sukumaran Nair alleges that the project would be beneficial to Tamil Nadu alone, as it is aimed at irrigating 91,400 ha in the drought-prone areas of the Vaipar basin, besides generating 500 MW of electricity.

Mullaperiyar Cell chairman M.K. Parameswaran Nair says the PAVRLP would result in submergence of 2,004 hectares of forestland, 297 ha of which have human settlements. “The recently completed Mekkara dam of Tamil Nadu is meant to play a very useful role in this new project. Tamil Nadu is hotly pursuing it. This project, if implemented, will invite yet another disaster to Kerala,” he says.

He says the very concept of ‘surplus’ water in the two Kerala rivers itself is faulty. “The volume of water flows during the flood season is misleading, as a basis for judging surpluses. Nor can the regions where floods occur be considered water surplus. Most of them may have floods in the monsoons but also have inadequate water for various uses in the dry season,” he observes.

CWRDM study report

Mr. Parameswaran Nair says another study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) in 1998 states that the Pampa and the Achencoil would have a deficit of 337 mcm and 459 mcm respectively by 2051. It further states that not less than 4,745 mcm of water is required for flushing out the pollutants from the Vembanad wetlands into the sea.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 10:29:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Pampa-Vaipar-project-may-set-off-another-water-war/article14425379.ece

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