Drought-hit district fumes as work on check-dams lags

Mitigation:A check-dam at Yakkarapuzha near Palakkad town retaining the water in Bharathapuzha even during the present situation of severe drought.  

: Environment organisations have condemned the “inaction on the part of the government in taking measures to tackle the drought-like situation in the district and the failure to protect water sources, including the Bharathapuzha that provides drinking and irrigation water to Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur districts.

Twelve check-dams were proposed to be constructed across the Bharatapuzha to prevent it from drying up during the summer month. Though it was mooted a decade back, only two check-dams have been built so far, Work on a third check-dam at Cheruthuruthy that started two years ago is half-way through.

Sub-surface dams that were built at Thrangali and Mundayi are damaged and do not serve any purpose. P.S. Panikkar, secretary of the Malampuzha Dam Protection Committee, told The Hindu barring the two check-dams and in the Velliyamkal regulator-cum-bridge areas, the Bharatapuzha had dried up badly affecting drinking and irrigation water supply in Palakkad district.

He said the Minor Irrigation Department, which was authorised to take up the construction of the check-dams, had shown criminal negligence. The State government had given administrative sanction for grant of Rs.5 crore to construct the check-dams in the Bharathapuzha. But the construction of the Cheruthuruthy check-is yet to be completed,” he said.

The former director of the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission T.N.N. Bhattathiripad said there was a proposal to construct 12 check-dams along the Bharathapuzha by the Mission. But, so far only two checks-dams have been built — at Jnavalinkadavu and Lakkidi.

Work on the Cheruthuruthy check-dam across the Bharathapuzha in the downstream of Cheruthuruthy bridge has not been completed. The State government had given administrative sanction for Rs.5 crore on December 17, 2011 to construct this check-dam.

This was the first check-dam in Bharathapuzha to be constructed utilising funds of the River Bank Development Programme. The new check-dam would replace the temporary check-dam constructed using sandbags near Cheruthuruthy bridge, Mr. Bhattathiripad said.

Indanur Gopi, secretary of Bharathapuzha Samrakshana Samithy, said successive governments, political parties and people's representatives were not taking any interest in conserving Bharathapuzha, the longest river in the State. He said the drought situation had turned severe this year as no steps were taken to protect the Bharathapuzha and other water sources.

The check-dams would help retain the water flow in the river during the dry season. But the proposal for nine more check-dams were pending for sanction, he said.

Two sub-surface dams damaged

Water supply hit due to drying up of Bharatapuzha