Water scarcity threat in Pampa basin

By TheHindu on 04 May 2017 | read

The inordinate delay in the completion of repair works along the damaged portion of the Pampa Irrigation Project (PIP) main canal at Vadasserikkara has badly affected the farming as well as drinking water needs of scores of families in the drought-hit areas of the Pampa river basin spread across Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.

A portion of the main canal of PIP was collapsed allegedly due to lack of proper annual repair and maintenance in December, 2016, leading to closure of the canal that has been the main water source of the villagers in its downstream reaches during the scorching summer months.

The promise made by the PIP Executive Engineer to complete the repair works estimated at Rs. 27 lakh and open the canal in April first week itself still remains unfulfilled for reasons best known to the authorities concerned, say N.K. Balan, and M.B. Dileep, Jana Saktheekarana Gavaeshana Kendram (JSGK) office-bearers.

Meanwhile, the JSGK has moved the State Human Rights Commission alleging human rights violation by the PIP in denying water to the scarcity-hit areas. The SHRC has served a notice to the PIP on the basis of the JSGK complaint.

The 325-km-long PIP canal network has been a boon to the people in the drought-hit hilly tracts and as well as the plains in the downstream reaches of the Pampa river basin. The canal waters used to recharge a large number of wells that turn dry even along the river banks in the scorching summer.

The water released from the PIP barrage at Maniyar, near Chittar, in the eastern hilly tracts of Pathanamthitta has been a great solace to the hapless villagers in the water scarcity-hit downstream reaches up to Haripad in Alappuzha district, according to the JSGK leaders.

The PIP comprised a barrage with a full reservoir level of 34.62 metres, a 26-km-long main canal between Maniyar and Vazhakkunnam near Kozhencherry, left and right bank canals, and its tributaries. The project was commissioned in 1993 for irrigating nearly 21,135 ha of farmlands in Ranni, Kozhencherry and Thiruvalla taluks in Pathanamthitta district, Chengannur, Mavelikara, Karthikappaly, and Kayamkulam taluks in the Alappuzha district, utilising the tail race water of the Sabarigiri hydro-electric project.

The tail race water of the Sabarigiri project collected in the PIP barrage at Maniyar is also utilised for power generation at the private mini hydro-electric projects at Maniyar and Allumkal.

Lack of proper repair and maintenance has left the canals in bad shape along many reaches. Sources in the Water Resources Department attribute the disrepair of the canal to inadequate budget allocation.

Seepage of canals leading to wastage of water is a common problem found along many stretches of the main canal and its branches.