KOCHI: The recurring floods will have a serious social impact on the people living close to Chalakudy and Periyar rivers. Hundreds of families fear they will be forced to leave due to loss of sustainable livelihood. Families depending on the river, paddy fields or canals for livelihood are the worst-affected as flooding has dampened the prospects of all kinds of farming.
During a meeting convened at Kunnukara panchayat, many families asked the authorities to find a way to prevent or minimise the impact of recurring flooding. Otherwise, they will be forced to move to safer places.
Over 125 people, including local residents, representatives of the panchayat and Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation, an NGO, participated in the meeting.
“The residents shared their apprehensions over the frequent flooding which result in the loss of their means of livelihood, be it agriculture, fish or dairy farming.
People in flood-prone areas spread across Nedumbaseery, Chengamanad, Parakadavu, Kunnukara and Puthanvelikara panchayats are the worst- affected.
The big and small canals connecting the two rivers and wide areas of paddy fields have been abandoned and encroached upon. Water flow is obstructed and there are no outlets for floodwater to drain. Hence, these places remain inundated for several weeks after the floods,” said M.P. Shajan, member of Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation.
Unscientific construction of roads, bridges and culverts blocking the flood path have also added to the woes.
Meanwhile, Dr. M.G. Sanil Kumar, head, research department of botany, SNM College, Maliankara, and a resident of Kunnukara panchayat, said that four or five neighbouring panchayats along the flood path were in trouble as the paddy fields, canals and wetlands have been encroached upon. “The remaining paddy fields and canals are filled with thick floating carpets of aquatic weeds. The situation worsened during the 2018 floods when huge quantities of sludge deposited in these areas. Despite the massive encroachments, water flow can be improved by removing the thick vegetation and sludge for which the government should take immediate measures,” he said.
Based on the discussions at the meeting, a 12-point agenda on preventing regular flooding has been prepared which will be submitted to the three MLAs representing the panchayats, MP and the chief minister....