With no desilting, reservoir capacity takes a hit in Kerala

An aerial view of the Idukki dam as its shutters open on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Desiltation of major reservoirs is yet to happen in Kerala though the water holding capacity of most of them has been reduced by the huge quantities of silt deposited by the 2018 floods.

Though the previous LDF government had mooted the idea of selling the clay and sand deposits removed from the reservoirs, the project did not make any headway. Of the 20 reservoirs owned by it, the Irrigation Department could initiate the project only at Mangalam reservoir in Palakkad.

The siltation has reduced the storage capacity of many dams significantly. Once these reservoirs are desilted, its storage could be enhanced and water need not be drained as done during the rainy season, pointed experts in irrigation civil engineering.

New area

Pranabjyothi Nath, Special Secretary, Water Resources Department, said the desilting of reservoirs was a relatively new area where there were not many agencies operating. Kerala was the first State to start the desilting of reservoirs, he said.

Studies conducted by the Kerala Engineering Research Institute, Thrissur, had indicated that the siltation levels have gone up in the 14 reservoirs of the Irrigation Department since the 2018 floods, said N. Suprabha, director of the Institute.

The ₹17.70-crore pilot project at Mangalam reservoir is expected to enhance the storage capacity by 2.95Mm3. The additional quantities of water that could be stored would be used for agriculture needs of Vandazhi, Kizhankkanchery, Vadakkanchery, Kannambra of Alathoor taluk. It could also be used for meeting the drinking water demands of these panchayats, according to the department.

Initial plan

According to Thomas Issac, former Finance Minister, the proposal for desilting was mooted to improve the storage of reservoirs besides earning revenue for the Government. The initial plan was to earn at least ₹500 crore through the sales of sand and clay. However, the project did not make much progress, said Dr. Issac.

The move by the Kerala State Electricity Board to desilt the Lower Periyar reservoir was shelved after opposition from the State Forest Department. Idukki, Edamalayar, Kakki and Banasurasagar are the other reservoirs owned by the board. The board, it iss understood, would soon come up with an action plan for desilting the dams in its possession.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 9:04:52 AM |

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