Thursday, 23 February 2017

Kerala gears up to tackle another drought

Kerala gears up to tackle another drought

| | Updated: Jan 3, 2017, 03.22 PM IST

KOCHI: After a terrible monsoon, the state government has come up with a contingency plan to address the impending drought-like situation in the coming months. The state government has proposed a slew of measures such as rainwater harvesting, rejuvenating ponds and water bodies, protecting wetlands, monitoring water wastage and illegal connections. District collectors have been told to implement drought risk reduction measures to ensure water supply in summer.

In the first phase, the state government will set up water kiosks in 10,000 spots to ensure drinking water by February . Check dams will be built at a later stage to conserve water, said water resources minister Mathew T Thomas.

"Kerala Water Authority will supply the water. A contingency plan is being put in place with the aid of disaster management authority," said Thomas. A water kiosk will have a 5,000-10,000 litre tank in a public area.Water will be filled by the district administration from approved water sources and a log will be maintained by the local ward member and countersigned by the village officer. The disaster management authority has proposed a kiosk per local body .

"The advantage of this method is that it will reduce pilferage by making water delivery locations fixed; the transportation cost will also thus be fixed. Apart from ensuring transparency, the possibility of misuse of water collected from kiosks becomes less.The main purpose is to ensure that potable water is available free of cost for the public," said disaster management authority's member secretary Sekhar Kuriakose.

He said that in 2012, when there was a drought-like situation in Malappuram, 516 minor check dams were built across streams using sand-filled gunny bags, twigs, boulders, wooden barks. These minor check dams ensured retention of water and recharge of surrounding open wells. Each check dam entailed a cost of Rs 50,000, including labour. Most of them became permanent impediments over a period of time due to silting and thus ensured continued water retention. In 2015, 135 logwood check dams were set up in Wayanad and 18 in Thrissur to conserve water.

Minister Thomas said the state is looking at an indigenous solution, that is, rubberised check dams. "The government is in discussion with the Rubber Board for technical support and a large vendor will be identified to manufacture the material. As of now, only a private player has the patent," Kuriakose said.

Before this year, drought was officially declared in 2012, 2010 and 2003. In 2010, 17 taluks were declared as drought-affected while in 2003 it was seven districts, seven taluks and 119 villages. Although southwest monsoon in 2015 was deficient by 25.7%, the Northeast monsoon had compensated the deficit. From 1881-2000, Kerala experienced 66 drought years. The major rainfall deficit years were 1983, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2012.

The contribution of southwest monsoon to the annual rainfall of the state is 69% and that of northeast monsoon is 16%. The percentage of annual rainfall decreases from north (87%) to south (54%) during southwest monsoon and increases from north (10%) to south (17%) during northeast monsoon.

Officials said that the summer rain in 2016 would be fair while the southwest monsoon was deficient by 34%. The effects of low rainfall is seen in the reservoirs and groundwater table.


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