Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is Kerala thirsting for water?

Yesterday  I heard in the news that Bharathapuzha has broken into two pieces.. the river has refused to run it's course! It is normal for this river to run a little dry during the dry season but this is the first time that it has been entirely broken up. There were newspaper reports about rampant sand mining on this river.
Sand-mining had led to depletion of the groundwater level and had affected the water flow. Saline water entered the river easily, especially during summer. The three-month ban on sand-mining during monsoon was also not being enforced, he said.
But let me forget this river for a moment and talk about the one that runs in front of our place. It has it's origin from both the Pampa river and Manimala river. Both these rivers originates from the western ghats and from the district of Idukki. It has to be fed by rain and for the last two years monsoon has not been good. The Pamba is considered as the Dakshina Ganga (Southern Ganges) due to its association with Kerala's Largest Pilgrim Centre - Sabarimala. Manimala river passes through the districts of KottayamPathanamthitta and finally joins the Pamba River at Muttar near Tiruvalla in Alappuzha district; very close to our place. From here it runs it's course through Kuttanad and joins the great Vembanad lake. 

The following photos were taken in year 2007. During each monsoon, this river spills onto the road but since the last few years it has not done so.

More photos can be viewed on my other blog

I also remember the time more than a decade back when this water came around the house too. This happens very rarely. 

 The following photos were taken during June of year 2009.

You can see the level of water. I doubt if water level will ever rise like before. 

Kerala is indeed going to face tough times. 

The State Disaster Management Authority has declared four districts drought-affected, with the monsoon months of June, July, and August bringing very little rain.
The districts declared drought affected are Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki, and Kollam, an official press release said on Thursday. The State as a whole has received only 77 per cent of the normal monsoon rainfall so far. Rainfall was especially less in the above four districts.

Recently during a discussion I realized that most Keralites are not aware of the relation between low lying  fallow lands (Wet Lands) and ground water table. Earlier Kerala had much wet lands either as paddy fields, temple ponds or small ponds dug in each plot to catch the rain water and let it seep back into the ground. This person whom I spoke to wanted to know why we should retain paddy fields if we are not cultivating. Yes it is unfortunate that we are not cultivating and I am sure it looks like a waste of land but these low lying lands are important since only they can replenish the ground water. 

Each rainy season brings enough water to Kerala and can be used wisely. Rain water harvesting has started in Kerala but the decision is late.

The Government of India has directed the State Government to provide certain provisions in building rules, pertaining to incorporation of rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements in building.
I fervently hope that monsoon will not fail the coming year too or should it? Just so that people will wake up finally? Else like Kuwait, one should build desalination plants for water supplies. But water is not the only issue. Can one imagine Kerala without all the greenery? I would rather quit my state than see it is such a sad situation. Then there is the issue of power too since 35% of power comes from hydroelectric power stations which depend on rain water. 

From March until the monsoon the well in our place becomes muddy since the level of water in the river falls very low. Right now we are pumping the river water and letting it seep into the ground. The water in the well is then just enough for a small household. We are also planning a solar energy system if we get a good company to do the same. A rain water harvesting system is also thought of. The day the river in front of us dry up then one can be sure that Kerala has become a desert!

For sure, if adequate measures are not taken the following scenes will be seen all over Kerala.


  1. The land of perennial rivers will be soon the land where rivers perished!

    You have given the factual account of the impending catastrophe. Man made indeed.

    I wonder why people do not think , relaise that they cannot live by wealth ( material) alone .
    What ever will be left of the rivers , man will pollute it that even vermin may not survive in it.
    In any case Bharathapuzha is long dead.

    It is a sad feeling. Posterity will abominate and curse

    1. The land of perennial rivers will be soon the land where rivers perished! true!

      It is sad indeed.. If Kerala should retain it's greenery development needs to be aligned accordingly.Building more concrete eye sores is not what Kerala needs.

      Yes..we may leave nothing for the next generation.

  2. I never knew how this is all connected. A nice post.

    I do not want to see Kerala without greenery, let us hope we shall have plenty of rains this season.

    1. Abhi: thank you..sometimes one stumbles upon such info like I did..and now I know that everything is connected. We can make or break even a river by our ways.

      I doubt if we shall have rains like before.. climate change is a reality. We can only preserve the water that we get from and also the trees and forests that shall preserve our rivers. Massive development by filling every land is not right for Kerala.

  3. hi hk..
    the global weather scene is indeed going topsy turvy..but it is more likely that we will have higher water levels after a while, with more water than we like!!only we have to figure out how to cheaply convert salt to sweet water!!

    1. You meant the rise in sea level right? which will eat away our shores... If Kerala continues the current way life will be even more expensive! Those who living near the sea will fare even badly.

  4. Water shortage is going to be felt by every state as we are so careless in using it..

    1. Yes..everywhere since there has been no planning by authorities..cant complain when those in power were busy conducting scams :)

  5. But they will not stop sand mining because they rake in the reveneues to build Mc Mansions in Kerala. So if one does not have water to drink - please drink Sand. Kerala is an illusion of god's country.


    1. Anrosh: It is always a pleasure to hear from you..

      Yes..we Keralites will soon be forced to drink/eat sand..the only aspect which interests us is building mansions which are seldom occupied..I read somewhere that even this is a sign of kaliyug..empty homes..

  6. This is very true and a sad state. I know of the rivulet that flows in front of my brother-in-law's house. It is one of those that has water in all 12 months, but this year they say the water was only knee deep IN THE MONSOON.

    1. Haddock: A warm welcome to my visit often.

      Oh! only knee deep? that is a sad sign indeed.. Kerala will soon face one of it's worst times.. lots of concrete buildings but not a drop of water to can only pray that it is is reversed somehow.


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