Water sources remain untapped despite a looming drought

Local bodies in district still busy with rehabilitation and restoration efforts post-flood; paucity of funds too an issue

Despite predictions of an imminent drought by various agencies, local bodies in the district are yet to start the spadework to revive abandoned potable water sources.

Most local bodies where floods and landslips had caused severe damage are still busy with rehabilitation and restoration work with the result that they are left with no time to plan drought-mitigation programmes.

Though pre-Budget discussions had recommended commencement of drought-mitigation programmes by January, they could not be taken up due to paucity of funds. For now, no local body is in a position to set aside special funds for the programmes before the next fiscal.

Last year, all grama panchayats had conducted special drives to revive all ponds and abandoned wells to meet water scarcity.

Unfinished programmes

However, the initiative did not cover all the identified spots. Similarly, well-recharging projects previously taken up by various panchayats with the support of government agencies too remained incomplete in several places.

The Akasa Ganga project launched by the District Panchayat last year to set up recharging systems for around 50,000 wells in 70 grama panchayats too was wound up midway.

In 2017, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) had extended support to the installation of well-recharging systems in around 7,000 households. However, the actual target was 20,000.

A study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) had found that the district had 385 ponds which could be used effectively to tackle water scarcity. Among them, 40 with an area of around 1.25 acres each could be de-silted.

Kozhikode was one of the nine districts declared as drought-hit by the State government last year.

Thamarassery and Vadakara taluks were the worst-hit. Saline water intrusion in some areas close to the coastal belt too had contributed to the crisis.

Severe scarcity

According to Revenue officials, 600 points with severe water scarcity were identified across the district last year. The issue was handled by setting up special water kiosks and frequent supply of KWA water using tanker lorries, they said.

District Panchayat President Babu Parassery said directions had been issued to all grama panchayats to resume well recharging projects and revival of unused ponds employing National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme workers.

“The District Planning Committee too has insisted on it. New water conservation projects too will be ready for the district by the next Budget,” he added.

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