The drought in Kerala is so acute that farmers are sinking borewells on the river bed

A state whose history is so crucially connected to availability of water is facing a severe drought.

Scroll reports how farmers are sinking borewells on river bed:

Bharathapuzha, also known as Nila, is the lifeline of Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu and Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts in Kerala. Environmentalists have been raising concerns over the slow death of the river for quite some time.

An expert committee appointed by the government of Kerala as far back as 1997 cautioned that “the Bharathapuzha system is seriously affected by unsustainable exploitation of its resources and over utilisation of its surface and ground water resources.”

The sinking of borewells on the river bed is likely to exacerbate the problem, say environmentalists.

The state government has begun a crackdown on such borewells. A revenue official said on condition of anonymity that encroachments on the river bed are illegal since it is the property of the state government. The official said that his department was closely monitoring the construction of open wells and borewells by private parties.

The eight farmers from Palapetty village, who travelled 30 km to Kuttipuram for vetiver farming, were shocked when revenue officials came and seized their water pumps and pipes. “We did not know that it was a crime to use the river bed for agriculture,” said Sajayan. “What is wrong in utilising underground water?”

The farmers had invested close to Rs 6 lakhs to cultivate vetiver. “Now we cannot water the plants,” said Sajayan. “All our money will go down the drain.”

Latheef said that he was worried about the fate of the Bharathapuzha. The 50-year-old has grown up along the river. “I don’t know how long my favourite river will survive,” he said. “If we do not prevent degradation of our forests, land and rivers, we will face drought every year. Nature is giving us indications, and we have to act immediately.”

The usual thing is to blame failed monsoon but we have just been destroying sources of water for a long time. Water is India’s number one problem but we are just so callous towards it. Most states are facing water shortages due to years of ignorance and neglect..

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