Kerala

State to ensure environmental flow of rivers

A fisherman casts his net in the Kalpathy river in Palakkad. The Department of Water Resources is planning to carry out a scientific study to facilitate environmental flow of water in the 41 rivers in the State.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

The Kerala State Department of Water Resources is planning to carry out a scientific study to facilitate environmental flow of water in the 41 rivers in the State.

The Chief Engineer of Irrigation and Administration and the Irrigation Design and Research Board (IDRB) have been tasked with submitting an action plan at the earliest in this regard.

The government order dated July 7, 2020, cites that there are hydrological and holistic methods of ensuring E-flow and that a hydrological data base is required to do so. This necessitates a study.

The decision comes in the wake of a memorandum submitted to the Minister for Water Resources by T.V. Rajan from Kozhikode in his capacity as Kerala Nadi Samrakshana Samithi general secretary in November 2019.

In the memorandum, he had pointed out that despite an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2017 to ensure environmental flow (E-flow) of rivers across the country, no action was taken by the State government in this regard.

Centre’s claim

E-flow is a term that defines the quantity, timing, and quality of water that should flow through a river to maintain the ecosystems dependent on it.

Several organisations had petitioned the NGT a few years ago to ensure E-flow of all rivers in the country during all seasons.

During the hearing, the representatives of the Union government had claimed that all rivers in the country had 15-20% water flow even in summer and hence there was no need to make an effort to ensure it.

The NGT had entrusted the State pollution control boards to make sure it was so.

However, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board, answering a recent RTI petition, passed the baton over to the Irrigation Department, which in turn confessed that no scientific study to this effect had been carried out in the State to far.

Depends on rain

“The rivers in Kerala, unlike those in north India, heavily depend on the rainfall for its water flow. Due to our peculiar topography, the rainwater flows into the sea very fast. Hence, the flow is very low during summer, especially in those with dams across them,” Mr. Rajan said, citing that the people in the low lands did not get enough water during the summer months as most of the rivers turn dry. As a result, people lose touch with the rivers.

“Opening one or two shutters of the dams during summer will ensure that there is a constant flow of water in the rivers,” Mr. Rajan noted.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 5:57:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-to-ensure-environmental-flow-of-rivers/article32243193.ece

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