Kerala: River Assembly seeks authority for all rivers
Kochi: The River Assembly held under the auspices of Chalakkudy River Protection Forum in association with Kerala River Protection Council and Moozhikkulam Sala at Moozhikkulam Sala on Monday scientifically assessed the issues faced by not only Chalakkudy river but rivers across the state. The personalities who donned the role of legislators include poet K Satchidanandan, C R Neelakantan, Prof S Seetharaman, Prof Kusumam Joseph, S P Ravi and T R Premkumar. After the discussions a river pledge was taken by the participants.
Speakers at the Assembly felt that the state still lacks a law specifically for rivers – for their conservation and for their rejuvenation.
“There may be water laws and laws on sand mining but not one on rivers. The Assembly demanded that the boundaries of the rivers should be surveyed and demarcated including their banks and all encroachments should be evicted,” said S P Ravi who leads the Chalakudy River Protection Forum about the proceedings. “Though the new law makes polluting of the rivers a criminal offence, steps need to be taken to ensure that industrial units have zero discharge. Steps should also be taken to scientifically assess what quantity of sand can be mined from a river and sand audit should be done after that,” Ravi said explaining the deliberations.
The speakers also demanded separate authorities for each river and a state level apex agency over them. “It was also felt that the water yield and flow rate in each river should be scientifically assessed, for a proper water management. The last such study was held I 1974,” Ravi said and added that 60 percent of the water yield should only be taken for water planning considering the erratic climate conditions. “It was also felt that a water use master plan including local bodies should also be prepared. The priority should be for drinking water followed by environment flow and irrigation,” Ravi added. “The Bill prepared at the meet will be presented to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas and related senior bureaucrats for action,” said Mr Premkumar.