After devastating floods, water level in Kerala rivers fall

A view of the Bharathapuzha river from Cheruthurthy railway bridge on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

Barely three weeks after the devastating floods, Kerala is witnessing the strange phenomenon of water level in rivers that were in spate till the other day falling sharply. The bed of the Bharathapuzha has once again become visible at many places.


The falling water levels in many rivers have triggered speculation about a possible drought-like situation in the State, especially if the northeast monsoon later this year fails.

A.B. Anita, executive director, Centre for Water Resources Development Management (CWRDM), an autonomous research institution under the State government, said heavy run-off of the top soil in the upland areas and the siltation in the rivers were the reasons for the falling water level.

The top soil in the hills and upland areas had been removed in the flash floods to a depth of up to two metres in many places. As the top soil was shaved off, it ruined the hills’ capacity to sponge in rainwater, she said.

Ms. Anita cited ecological destruction caused by deforestation, harmful land use in the upland areas and sand mining in the streams and rivers as having contributed to the top soil run-off and siltation. This was exacerbated by the impact of climate change at the macro level.

Groundwater table

“A detailed, location-specific geographical investigation” is necessary to establish the exact cause for the shrinking of the rivers. The government has already tasked the CWRDM with finding the causes, and a panel of scientists has been set up. The preliminary outcome of the study would be available in a few days, she said.

Echoing her views, experts at the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, (NIT-C) said it was usual for the water level in the rivers and domestic wells to fall after fluvial floods.

“Normally, a river flows through the sand of its own bearing till the mouth. However, this time the discharge has been full, taking the sand and the rocks in the youth-stage along with the floods.

“So the water level in the rivers comes down. And when the river water level is reduced, the groundwater table also does not get replenished since the rivers and groundwater table are connected,” K. Saseendran, geologist and professor at the NIT-C, told The Hindu on Saturday.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 10:07:05 AM |

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