Kerala is facing its worst ever drought in 115 years. With both the southwest and northeast monsoons falling far short of normal, the state received just one-third of its normal rainfall of 480.7mm. Among the alarming effects of the drought is the damage to a whopping 30,353 hectares of agricultural land.
Even as the drought is the single largest event impacting the life of citizens in Kerala, what has perhaps not received adequate attention is how the state has failed at many levels in conserving water.
To initiate a dialogue on water conservation, News 18 Kerala, a Malayalam channel launched last year, is covering the drought for 12 continuous hours on May 14.
Kerala has 44 rivers and gets plenty of rainfall from two monsoons. But the lack of systems in conversing water, callous attitudes of the administration and people has led Kerala to this situation.
The channel will telecast 100 news stories that will showcase Keralaâ€™s drought problem and stories of water conservation.
â€śThe focus is also on positive stories. There are people from the government, legislators and ordinary citizens who have set an example when it comes to conserving water,â€ť said Rajeev Devaraj, Editor of News 18.
Besides news packages, the channel intends to also talk about solutions. In many parts of rural Kerala, rain pits are dug, and wells are recharged every summer. Different experts will speak on the issues. Stories on individuals like Shibu, a panchayath member from Thiruvanthapuramâ€™s Chenkal panchayat who is spending his own money to ensure water supply, or a man from Idukki who has been going into wells and collecting water for communities also feature.
The attempt to address a serious issue that may not catch eyeballs has received praises from many quarters.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac pledging his support wrote, â€śThe severity of the drought is increasing every year. We used to have our own methods of water conservation. Indigenous water saving methods conserved rain water during the southwest and northeast monsoons. It is the destruction of these methods that has led to such a disaster. At least during this drought, water conservation should become a main topic of discussion. Media has to play a big role in ensuring that and the example being set by News 18 is one that fills us with hope.â€ť
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor wrote, â€śCongratulations to @News18Kerala for promoting responsible journalism in an age of fake news & misinformationâ€ť.
News channels in the vernacular have been at the forefront of drought-coverage, providing indepth focus on the issue. Earlier Puthiya Thalaimurai had done a day long coverage on the drought situation in Tamil Nadu.