Kerala’s dying water bodies will now get a new lease of life thanks to an ambitious project by the Kerala government in association with the Haritha Kerala Mission, which integrates waste management, organic farming and water resources rejuvenation in the state.
The project will primarily aim to clear up (de-weed and de-silt) blocked rivers, canals, rivulets and local ponds in several districts to allow the free flow of water.
Following the successful rejuvenation model used for the Varattar River in the Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts, the mission will support the undertaking of similar river revival projects in other wards.
The initial project is being rolled out in phases with wards from across the state being selected for the same.
“We work to provide training and technical support to the gram, block and district panchayats, who undertake the revival projects. We will also integrate the different departments that will have to work together for a project. For instance, sometimes the irrigation department will have to join hands with the panchayats for those rivers that flow through fallow fields,” said TN Seema, Executive Vice-Chairperson of the Haritha Kerala Mission.
Explaining how the revival process will work, Seema said, “All water bodies will be selected, including dried up wells and temple ponds. Apart from de-weeding and cleaning up the beds, we will also try to increase the depth of the water bodies. This will boost the flow of the river, which will then fill dried-up channels nearby,” she said.
In terms of resource mobilization for the project, the mission aims to follow the Varattar model, which saw active public participation in terms of funding.
“Public participation is the key to successfully undertaking other rejuvenation projects under the mission, especially for campaigning and mobilization. We will be the facilitating platform for the people and the departments to work together,” said Seema.
The initial plans for Kannur’s Kanampuzha and the integration of the Pallikalar, Kolarayar and Meenachilar rivulets running through the Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts have been fixed.
Seema added that the rejuvenation projects have increased the cultivable land in the state.
“In many places, paddy fields were lying fallow as the canals running around the fields had dried up. However, we have noticed a marked improvement in paddy cultivation with the rebirth of these channels,” she said.