Eco group opposes move to interlink rivers

A view of the Pampa that ran almost dry at Kozhencherry during peak summer in March.— Photo: By Special Arrangement

A view of the Pampa that ran almost dry at Kozhencherry during peak summer in March.— Photo: By Special Arrangement  

Various environmental groups and experts have strongly opposed the reported move to implement the controversial river-linking scheme, Pampa-Achencovil-Vaipar Link Project (PAVLP), by the Union government and the Tamil Nadu government.

During her recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa stressed the need to implement the river-linking project on a priority basis. Tamil Nadu had also moved the Supreme Court, earlier, seeking the implementation of the PAVLP.

The PAVLP, estimated to cost Rs. 2,588 crore, is one among the eight projects prepared by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) as part of the Centrally sponsored project to interlink various rivers.

Talking to The Hindu , Pampa Parirakshana Samiti general secretary N.K. Sukumaran Nair said the project proposed the diversion of 634 million cubic metres (mcm) of water from the Achencovil and the Pampa to the Vaipar river basin in Tamil Nadu. The proposal was on the basis of certain “manipulated” study reports stating that the two Kerala rivers carry excess water.

Preliminary studies conducted by NWDA showed that the Pampa and the Achencoil had a total surplus water of 3,127 mcm. The NWDA report further said that a portion of this “surplus” water, if diverted to Vaipar, can irrigate 94,000 hectares of drought-prone areas in Tamil Nadu, besides generation of peaking power of 500 mw through a pumped storage scheme.

The scheme also proposes a regulated release of 150 mcm water to Kerala during the lean period.

Mr. Nair alleged that the NWDA study was unscientific and partisan. In contrast, a three-year study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, Kozhikode, had found that there would be a deficit of 3,537 mcm and 459 mcm of water in the Pampa and the Achencoil respectively by 2050, he said.

The Central Water Commission too had reported salinity intrusion into the Pampa beyond Aranmula during summer, posing serious pollution problems.

The Pampa and the Achencoil run dry along many stretches during summer, causing acute drinking water scarcity even along the river banks.

Drying up of wells even along the river banks because of drastic ground water depletion has become an annual phenomenon, Mr. Nair said.

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