Pampa river system in danger

The river basin had witnessed an unprecedented water scarcity last summer

August 08, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 12:00 am IST - PATHANAMTHITTA

The carbonaceous clay like soil dug out from a 34 ft deep well at Nedumprayar on the banks of the Pampa river.

The carbonaceous clay like soil dug out from a 34 ft deep well at Nedumprayar on the banks of the Pampa river.

The Environment Resource Centre (ERC) of the Pampa Parirakshana Samiti (PSS) has observed that indiscriminate sand-mining, coupled with unscientific interventions on the riverbed by government agencies, has resulted in alarming changes in the riverine system of the Pampa over the past two decades.

ERC director K.S.Binu and the samiti general secretary N.K.Sukumaran Nair told The Hindu that the Pampa river basin had witnessed an unprecedented water scarcity during the previous summer, from January to June. A more or less similar situation was also reported from the basin of the Varattar, a rivulet linking the Pampa and the Manimala rivers. Moreover, the Pampa waters in certain parts of Chengannur were found in a blackish colour during the first week of June.

Water in almost all wells in the immediate vicinity of the riverbanks has depleted. A 30-ft deep well situated right on the Pampa banks at Nedumprayar was deepened by 4 ft to find some carbonaceous clay like soil in the bottom layer, Dr. Binu says.

The ERC study report further stated that “the borehole core shows a coarsening upward sequence above the peat bed, indicating a prograding type depositional environment with an increasing energy level during the sedimentation process.”

It can be concluded that these areas were covered by thick tropical rainforests which got destroyed during sediment build up in the area under high rainfall events, says the report.

Dr. Binu and Mr. Nair said a study report submitted by another expert team led by Mr. Ajayakumar Varma, scientist, has predicted only another 55-year life for the Pampa, if the present state of affairs with the river system continued. They said rejuvenation of the Varalchal rivulet leading to the Pampa in Koipram grama panchayat in March has brought life to many a well in the locality.

The studies conducted by the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) revealed that the Pampa river channel bed in its downstream reaches, especially around Malakkara, was lowering at a rate of 10 cm a year due to instream sand-mining

Low rainfall data

Recent rainfall data indicate that there is considerable reduction in the average annual rainfall in the highland by 7%, midland by 10% and in the lowland by 14%.

The ERC study suggests a strict ‘no’ to any more unscientific human interventions in the Pampa and to take scientific measures to raise the riverbed level based on a meticulously prepared comprehensive river action plan.

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