The Central Travancore district of Pathanamthitta, especially its hilly tracts, is fast sliding into the grip of acute drinking water scarcity.
The summer had an early onset in January. Wells and natural streams in the hilly areas of Ranni, Konni and Adoor started drying up from mid-January onwards, leaving the common people in a difficult situation.
Water level in the rivers Pampa, Manimala and Achenkovil as well as their tributaries have gone down drastically in the scorching sun, drying up many a well right on their bank itself.
Talking to the The Hindu, many people residing on the banks of river Pampa along the Aranmula-Kozhencherry-Ranni stretch said their attempts to deepen the wells too proved a futile exercise as it had badly affected the water quality in the wells.
Functioning of many drinking water supply schemes in Pampa, Manimala and Achenkovil has been affected with the depletion of water level in the summer heat.
Kerala Water Authority too has been put in a tight spot as the plumbing has been affected with the lowering of water level in the rivers. Villagers have to wait for a long time before the public water taps provided at select points in Kaviyur, Kalanjoor, Ranni, Konni, etc., to collect potable water every day.
Aruvappulam, Konni, Thannithode, Kalanjoor, Chittar, Seethathode, Kaviyur, Elakkulam, Nalloor, Karimanthode, Manneera, Kizhakkupuram, Koodal, Pramadom, Kottangal, Attachakkal, etc, are among the worst-affected areas.
The rocky and hilly patches of Pathanamthitta municipal limits too have been witnessing acute drinking water scarcity.
Anchakkala, Ottukal, Mundukottackal, Karimbanakkuzhy, Kumbazha muruppu,, etc, have been identified the worst-affected municipal areas.
Tribal areas hit
The tribal areas of Adichippuzha, Attathode and Gurunathanmannu have also been in the grip of acute drinking water scarcity.
Tail race of the power generating stations at Moozhiyar, Seethathode and Maniyar is the lone source of water that provides a lean flow in the rivers Kakkattar and Pampa.
Many who reside on the river banks have to fetch potable water from distant places on their heads or in vehicles. Those who can afford fetch water in tanker lorries and store in large tanks or even directly drain it out into wells in their courtyard.
Indiscriminate demolition of hills, wanton conversion of wetlands, low-lying paddy fields and even small canals have also contributed to the present horrifying state of affairs, say Dr Thomas P. Thomas and V.N. Gopinatha Pillai of Kerala River Protection Council.
District Collector, P. Venugopal and Additional District Magistrate, H. Salimraj, said a total of Rs 1.5 crore has been sanctioned for drought relief measures to be taken on an emergency basis.
The administration has taken steps to reach potable water in tanker lorries to the worst-affected areas on the basis of requests from the local self-government institutions, Mr Venugopal said.