Steps to cut impact of water-level rise

Kerala is considering steps to mitigate the impact of water-level rise in the Mullaperiyar dam as Tamil Nadu is all set to increase it following the Supreme Court order.

A meeting of senior officials of the Forest Department will be held on Monday to take stock of the situation as Kerala would lose some of its flora and fauna when the water level is increased, said Minister for Forests Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.

The meeting will discuss measures to mitigate the impact on the forest ecosystem. The State also needs to devise measures to lessen the impact on tribals. The government would come out with some proposals after the all-party meeting scheduled to be held in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

Incidentally, in 2000, the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, had concluded that “tribal settlements and their agriculture lands at Mannan kudi” would be hit. The area of submergence, according to the environmental impact assessment by S. Sankar, P.S. Easa, A.R.R. Menon and N. Sasidharan of the Institute, would be 11.219 sq. km if the water level is raised from 136 ft to 152 ft.

As per the study, the impact would be felt across tribal settlements and other areas “with over 1,000 households and a population of 3,500-4,000 people. Both tribals and non-tribals would be affected, and houses and agricultural land would be submerged.

The “vegetation in the submergible area is a major source of food and fodder to the wildlife and would threaten the existence of endangered flora, especially the orchid Taeniophyllum scaberulum,” it said.

Researchers had concluded that the “change in water level would shift large numbers of larger mammals from the lakeshore, which is being used as feeding and breeding grounds. A negative impact on lower forms of animals like fishes was also predicted.

Accidental deaths of elephants, which swim across the lake at specific points with less number of dead tree stumps and gradual slopes, can happen as the alteration in the height of the reservoir may confuse them. The elephants, which have got used to the system since the reservoir came up, may take a long time to get used to the changes, it said.

The dwindling population of snake birds and the little cormorants too could be affected besides causing a long-term and irreversible damage on the ecosystem integrity, wildlife, and the aesthetics of the environs, it warned.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 5:17:11 PM |

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