Kerala

Rise in water level due to high tide threatens Kuttanad’s paddy

It has been a tough couple of months for paddy farmers in Alappuzha district, especially in Kuttanad.

Heavy downpours and floods that hit the region in October and November destroyed paddy (additional crop) in large tracts in Upper Kuttanad and Kuttanad and caused massive losses for farmers.

After the devastation caused by natural calamities, seeds provided to farmers in several parts of the region recently for puncha (first) crop season failed to germinate.

That particular problem along with other issues caused by the floods was at least partially solved with the help of government intervention and farmers showing great resilience as the region geared up for another crop season.

Finally, when everything seems to have fallen into place for sowing for puncha crop season, which is already behind schedule, a new challenge in the form of rising water level, caused by the intrusion of seawater into Vembanad Lake through the Thanneermukkom barrage due to high tide, is looming large over paddy fields in Kuttanad.

The phenomenon, a recurring issue, has adversely affected field preparation activities in several places. Several units of padasekhara samiti in Champakulam, Pulinkunnu, Kavalam, among other places, are yet to complete the dewatering of paddy fields as the process got hampered by higher water levels.

Farmers fear the sudden increase in water level in the mornings due to high tide and a fall in the level of water in evenings in low tide would result in bund breaches. Outer bunds of a number of fields are in a weakened state.

Farmers say the continuing intrusion of seawater will increase salinity in the lake, which will be detrimental to paddy cultivation in Kuttanad.

“The rise in water level in Kuttanad caused by the intrusion of seawater began a week ago. Water would rise around one foot in the mornings and it would recede in the evenings. At present, there is no threat of salinity, as there is a smooth flow to the sea. But if the intrusion of water continues unabated, the situation will change,” said a paddy farmer.

Apart from threatening rice cultivation, water has entered a number of houses and inundated parts of the Alappuzha-Changanassery road and rural roads in the region.

Farmers and leaders of various political parties have urged the district administration to immediately down all shutters of the Thanneermukkom bund to prevent seawater from entering the lake.

Meanwhile, farmers in Upper Kuttanad have urged the authorities to immediately close the Thrikunnapuzha cheepu and construct bunds in canals to prevent saltwater intrusion into fields in the region.


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 2:08:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rise-in-water-level-due-to-high-tide-threatens-kuttanads-paddy/article37871653.ece

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