No water in Wayanad border villages, projects to tap Cauvery river water drag on

Cauvery river. File photo: Manorama

Wayanad: The acute water scarcity faced by the border villages of Wayanad has again brought into focus the failure of the state to tap the river water by constructing dams across the tributaries of the river Cauvery.The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) had in its verdict in 2007, allocated 30 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic feet) of river water for the state . This included 20.56 TMC for Wayanad. As per the data of the irrigation department, the district is utilizing only less than 4 TMC water so far. It has been cited that if the state fails to tap the water from the tributaries before 2033, the CWDT would revise the allocation and would divert the share to other states.

The major attempt in utilizing the water was the construction of Karappuzha Dam which has a capacity of 2.78 TMC. Though there are many check-dams, most of them are defunct. The only silver line is the Kadmanthode project aims at utilizing 0.51 TMC water in the Kabani basin, whereas thetribunal had allotted 1.53 TMC water for the project. The original proposal was to tap the water of the river Kadamanthodu through seven small and medium projects utilizing a total of 1.53 TMC water. It was however scaled down to minimize the social impact as there were widespread protests from various sections.

According to Irrigation Department Executive Engineer Shamsad UC, the irrigation department has recently completed the survey using the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) survey method using drones. '' Wehave submitted the report and further action would be streamlined after the perusal of the report at higher level,'' she said.Going by the proposal, the mini dam would have a length of 490 meters, a height of 28 meters and is spread over a reservoir area of 123 hectares.

Many panchayats of the district bordering Karnataka are facing severe water crisis.According to Janakan Master, former panchayat president of Pulppalli panchayat, though the earlier project was to construct a bigger dam with a capacity of 1.51 TMC water, the previous governments were afraid of the public protest against the proposal resulting in the revised project.'' The situation of both Pulppalli and Mullankolly panchayats is alarming as the groundwater level is going down at a fast pace. The ground water-level is down by 6 meters compared with that of last year in the same period,'' he said.

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