Kerala

Planning Board’s Kuttanad plan draws flak

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Eco forum says it lacks crucial factors on flood control

The Pampa Parirakshana Samiti, a Kozhencherry-based environmental organisation that has been campaigning for the cause of river Pampa, has picked holes in the special package for Kuttanad prepared by the State Planning Board. N.K. Sukumaran Nair, PPS general secretary and environmentalist, told The Hindu that the special package lacked certain crucial factors concerning flood control.

Kuttanad, which lies one to two metres below the sea level, has always been flood-prone. It is one of the few regions in India where paddy is cultivated below the mean sea level.

Dutch system

Paddy is cultivated in polders, coconut is grown in garden lands, ducks are reared in water-logged areas, and fisher families harvest special species of fish in Kuttanad. This unique system in Kuttanad has many similarities with the Dutch polder system.

Mr. Nair said the Planning Board proposal for the Dutch-model ‘Room for River’ for accommodating floodwaters was a welcome one. But, rejuvenation of the Varattar, Uthrappaliyar, Kolarayar, and Areethodu, all tributaries of the Pampa, as well as various floodplain wetlands in the river basin is a must to check the vagaries of floods in Kuttanad, he said.

The floodplain reaches of Varalchaal in the Pampa river basin was rejuvenated in 2017, reducing the severity of the deluge of August 2018, in its vicinity, Mr. Nair said. Though incomplete, the partial rejuvenation of the Varattar river, another tributary of the Pampa, too was helpful in reducing the flood fury in 2018.

Mr. Nair said the State had converted certain floodplain wetlands and paddy lands in the Pampa river basin, especially in the downstream reaches of Ranni, for implementing development projects. This too had contributed to the deluge of 2018, he alleged.

Construction of the KSRTC bus station in Ranni-Pazhavangady and the ongoing conversion of the 25-acre Perunkulam paddy fields in Chengannur municipality for constructing a stadium were examples of such State-sponsored anti-environment activities, he alleged.

AC Canal

Mr. Nair said development of the Alappuzha-Changanassery canal was a major proposal in the Kuttanad Development Plan prepared by P.H. Vaidyanatha Iyer in 1952. M.S. Swaminathan too has stressed the importance of completing the AC Canal in the Kuttanad Package. The planners of the special package have failed to consider these key proposals, he alleged.

The proposals in the Kuttanad Package for improving the efficiency of the Thanneermukkom bund and Thottappally spillway too were not given due consideration, he alleged.

Mr. Nair said the pollution of Vembanad Lake as well as the Upper and Lower Kuttanad was due to the waste flowing into the rivers Pampa, Manimala and Achencoil from the towns situated on their banks. He said the planners should have considered the recommendations of the National Flood Commission (1997-’80) too while discussing the post-deluge development works in Kerala.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:21:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/planning-boards-kuttanad-plan-draws-flak/article30198775.ece

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