With a 34 per cent decrease in average rainfall between June and September this year, Palakkad district is slowly inching towards a major drinking water scarcity and agricultural loss.
The district had received 1,008.5 millimetres of rain in place of the expected 1,499.9 mm. Acute drinking water scarcity is now gripping the Chittur and Attappady regions where agricultural activities have also came to a standstill.
A drought-like situation has already emerged across the district. Though Palakkad has a number of irrigation dams with better canal connectivity, catchment areas of the dams are now remaining dry because of lack of sufficient rainfall.
As far as Malampuzha is concerned, the largest drinking water reservoir in the State, it carries drinking water hardly for 18 more days. The dam is meeting daily drinking water needs of Palakkad municipality and five grama panchayats surrounding it.
Major drinking water projects in the Bharathapuzha river basin are dependent on the reservoir during acute summer to meet the needs of towns such as Ottappalam and Shoranur.
The water level has dipped alarmingly in the Walayar, Pothundi, Chulliyar and Mankara dams in the last one week.
Only the Mangalam and Kanjirapuzha dam are storing the required quantity of water to meet the needs of surrounding areas.
Rice cultivation activities in over 20,000 hectres in Chittur taluk are depended heavily on the release of water from the Aliyar dam by Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, groundwater availability has also turned a major concern in Chittur taluk. An average of hundred borewells are being dug in Chittur taluk every month. Even at a depth of 1,000 feet, water is not available.
The lack of rain has affected flow in the Chittur and Gayathri rivers, the major tributaries of the Bharthapuzha.
It will also have an adverse impact on the flow in the Chalakudy river, which irrigates a sizeable part of Thrissur district.
According to farmers’ leader Muthalamthode Mani, the scanty rainfall would affect the release of PAP waters to Coimbatore and Tirupur districts of Tamil Nadu as per the inter-State river water sharing accord.
As per the existing procedure, Tamil Nadu stores PAP waters in the Aliyar dam and releases a portion of it for irrigation in Chittur taluk through the Chittur river.