After a punishing summer, govt forms tech committee to study river water use and finance

People use a coracle to move through the shallow waters of a dried up River Kabani in Wayanad. File photo: Jithin Joel Haarim/Manorama

Wayanad: The state government has constituted an eight member technical committee to study optimum utilisation of water resources and financial aspects of river water projects in the state. The committee has been constituted following a recommendation from the vice-chairperson of the state planning board.

An order issued by the Department of planning and economic affairs notes that only 25% of the total area under farming receives irrigation in the state. This eventually results in low productivity. Inspite of having a wide network of water bodies, Kerala faces acute water shortage during summer and during times of monsoon, these water bodies cause flooding in various districts, the order notes.

As per the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) Verdict , Kerala has been allocated a total of 30 TMC of water for the three sub basins viz: Kabani sub basin – 21 TMC, Bhavani sub basin – 6 TMC and Pambar sub basin – 3 TMC. The quota has to be realized before 2030 and the projects have to be completed within six years.

The planning board has communicated that a detailed project proposal has to be prepared to ensure availability of 30 TMC water from Cauvery before 2030. Water flowing towards the sea shall be stored and used during summer and a list of interventions related to water resource network has to be prepared. Besides the financial requirements to fulfil the objectives also need to be devised, according to the letter from the planning board.

Onmanorama had reported the extreme drought situation haunting the border villages of Wayanad and also the failure of the state government in utilizing the 30 TMC water from the Cauvery basin allotted by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, by completing the proposed projects.

The government has appointed noted surface water scientist, EJ James, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Karunya University, Coimbatore, as the chairman of the committee. Former head of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode, James had represented the state in the Cauvery tribunal as the expert witness.

Other members of the panel are Prof. KP Sudheer, executive vice president, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, Prof C T Dhanya, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT, Delhi, Alex Varghese, District Collector Alappuzha, Executive Director, CWRDM, Kozhikode, and heads of various departments of agriculture, irrigation and representative of State Planning Board.

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