Even before the summer season begins to cast its dry spell over the state of Kerala, regions in Ernakulam district have already started showing signs of acute water shortage that is likely to occur in the following months.
Natural drinking water sources like wells in parts of Aluva municipality in the district have been showing severe dip in water levels from the past few weeks. Aluva was one of the severely affected regions during the recent deluge.
According to officials of Aluva municipality, wells in the region had been showing lower water levels since the past one year. Pumping of water for commercial use in tanker lorries, from some wells in the municipality limits, has been cited as the reason for lower levels of water.
â€śTo avoid the situation, we had prohibited the practice of pumping water to transport in tanker lorries a year ago, but the district administration intervened in the matter and gave permission to continue this,â€ť said Lissy Abraham, chairperson of the municipality.
Meanwhile, top officials at the district administration said that local self-government bodies do not have the authority to stop this distribution of water for commercial purposes. â€śIt is the duty of the district administration to ensure that all parts of the district get equal share of water,â€ť said District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla to TNM. The groundwater department constantly monitors the water level and it is as per their data that permission has been granted to supply water from these wells to various parts of the city, added Safirulla. There are about 1,500 tanker lorries in the district which supply drinking water from wells in the rural areas of Ernakulam to different parts of the city.
â€śThe officials of Aluva municipality have filed a complaint regarding the matter with the district administration a few days back. The groundwater department has been assigned to look into the issue as they are in charge of deciding the permissible quantity of water that can be drawn from groundwater sources,â€ť added the Collector.
â€śThe situation has become extremely difficult for farmers in the region. As water level in the Periyar river is not bountiful, the wells are not getting replenished,â€ť said Jerome Michael, Public Works standing committee Chairman of municipality.
Periyar river is the main source of drinking water in the district. According to officials in the district irrigation department and Kerala Water Authority (KWA), the level of water in the river is not very promising for the summer ahead, though as of now it will suffice. â€śThe water level in Periyar river is presently 0.2 metres above sea level, even though that does not pose a challenge presently for the distribution of water, it would have been good if the level was at least 0.3 metres,â€ť said Anil Augustine, assistant executive engineer of KWA.
The shutters of various water regulators across the river in the district have also been closed to prevent the salinity intrusion. â€śWhen water level decreases, salt water from the sea enters the river making the water saline. This will have a toll on the vegetation cover in the district. We prevent this by closing all the shutters of the regulators across the river,â€ť said Sethu Muhammed, assistant executive engineer in the Irrigation department.
Meanwhile, in parts of the city like Vytilla, Ponnuruni, Vyttila Janatha and Poonithura, people have been getting less supply of water for the past two weeks. â€śThere was no continuous water supply for the last two weeks, the distribution was on intermittent days and that too in less quantity,â€ť said PS Shine, councillor of Vyttila ward. Residents of the wards facing water shortage had blocked the water authority official on the way, as a form of protest last Monday.
Officials of KWA told TNM that the problem will be solved within two daysâ€™ time.