Join Hands to Combat Drought, to Save Water, to Save life

The scholarly articles whereby learned environmentalists discussed this issue fall on us like a bolt from the blue because Kerala- ‘God’s own country’- has always been considered as a land of rivers. We might have never thought that water would slowly become a non renewable, scarce resource. It is high time that we realise the importance of utilising this precious resource in the most judicious manner.

In spite of the giant leaps we have made in various fields, Kerala society is still indifferent to conservation of nature, at large. Preservation of water and enrichment of resources were not given its due importance.

Our habit of utilising water was formulated from time to time unintentionally, on the background of abundance of availability of water. Nobody can be blamed for developing such a habit of extravagant use of water during the days of its abundance. The present scenario is different. This year the South West Monsoon in June, July and August was only as much as 66% compared to last year’s rain fall. North East Monsoon in September- October was negligibly meager. In spite of this scantiness, we are still in the hangover of abundance

Our education moulds us into ‘mark producing machines’ without imbibing the true spirit of what all we learn or rather accumulate to the layers of knowledge and information. Our indifference to nature and natural resources arise from our ignorance about the survival of living organisms on earth.

As far as we know till this day, earth is the only planet where life exists. This specialty of earth owes most to the presence of water and the rest to the whole system of nature which is designed for the preservation of water. This design begins from the optimum distance from son, neither too far away nor too close, which would enhance the preservation of water. The basic principle of any developmental activity should be that it does not vitiate this natural process.

On the contrary, development or high living or sophistication is now taken for granted as doing something against nature. As soon as a new house is decided to be built, felling of trees, building of a compound wall and laying floor tiles or interlock bricks are the preliminary steps adopted. As it goes to higher levels, higher levels of such activities also follow.

Kerala adopted a water policy in 2008 wherein water is declared to be a common ancestral property. Hence availability of water was declared to be a human right. We have the obligation to conserve it and preserve it. However, the unchanging pattern of utilisation of earth is obstructing the achievement of this goal of water being construed a human right. It is here that the role of Functional Literacy and Water Literacy becomes significant. The protection of rivers and river basins and watershed regions are to be given utmost priority.

The basic natural unit most appropriate for the conservation of water and natural resources is micro watershed regions. A river basin is an integrated form of such small watershed regions. It is at this river basin level that water resource availability and management have to be promoted. In order to facilitate proper water protection, the water- soil protection activities are to be carried out at small river basins and then integrated at river basin levels so that water flow is maintained in a sustainable level in each river. For this, various divisions and agencies under the Water Resource Department will have to take up the following activities;

  • Training Programs for the Department staff at all levels
  • Enlisting of Mission activities with the involvement of LSG authorities, technical experts, beneficiaries and so on, based on watershed maps available with various departments and agencies.
  • Rejuvenation of ponds, brooks, streams and tributary channels
  • Rain harvesting and recharging of wells by way of rain dips
  • Prepare Water-Soil-Environment protection plans suitable for each of the main geographical division, viz, hilly, central and coastal regions
  • Reduce wastage from irrigation canals and connect direct canal water by way of sub canals to ponds and fields to ensure availability of water during the summer season
  • Avoid water stagnation in canals and utilize that water beneficially
  • Bifurcate main river basins and sub basins with the aid of Geographical Information System (GIS) and mark natural and human made water sources under each basin in order to make master plans.
  • Make studies on unscientific check dams at hilly areas and seek remedial measures
  • Develop Information and Communication Technology (ICT) System for water resources with the aid of Hydrology Project –Phase III
  • Initiate steps for pollution control in rivers
  • Strengthen monitoring system and develop models of social auditing
  • As part of the ‘Haritha Keralam Mission’ of the Government, the ‘Jalasamridhi program’ is also being launched on 8th December. The ‘Haritha Keralam Mission’ at large will be a big campaign program after the Literacy Mission Program which led Kerala in to a total literate state in early 1990-s. As part of the ‘Haritha Keralam Mission’, ‘Jalasamridhi’ will also ensure involvement of all sectors of people by urging the leadership of Schools, Colleges, Worship Centres, Ashrams, Industrial institutions, Residents’ Associations, Clubs, NGOs, LSGs and common citizens to join hands for the protection of water and the natural system that is designed for the conservation of water