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Stream rejuvenated -Ecological balance regained

27 Nov 2019

Introduction

Karippechal stream flows through Cherthala South, Kadakkarappally and Kanjikuzhi Gram Panchayats of Kanjikuzhi Block Panchayat of Alappuzha District. Over the years, the deposits from the shoreline and river pollution silted the flow of the stream, causing flood and other related disasters during the rainy season. This affected the lives of the people, especially those who were living on the shoreline. The floods also led to unhealthy living conditions such as contamination of drinking water, improper sanitation facilities, waterborne diseases, etc., during the monsoon season. Three local self-government bodies of the district, namely, Kanjikuzhi Block Panchayat (BP), Kadakkarappally GP and Cherthala South GP worked in synergy for revival of the stream by desilting it.

Implementation

The work of desilting and deepening of Karippechal stream was jointly carried out by Kanjikuzhi BP, Kadakkarappally GP and Cherthala South GP during 2018–2019 at a total cost of Rs. 92.2 lakhs under MGNREGS, out of which Rs. 36.7 lakhs was funded under MGNREGS. Of the remaining expenditure, contribution of Rs. 28.5 lakhs was made by Kanjikuzhi BP, Rs. 15.0 lakhs by Cherthala South GP and Rs. 12.0 lakhs by Kadakkarappally GP. Desilting was undertaken on a stretch of 5.7 km and at a depth of 1 m using machinery as the stream was heavily polluted; the total cost of the project was Rs. 55.5 lakhs. The cost of machinery was met from the three panchayats’ plan funds. About 55,000 m3 of silt was transported by MGNREGS labour from the stream to the nearby agricultural lands at a total cost of Rs. 36.7 lakhs.

Impact

As a result of rejuvenation of the stream, the ecological balance was regained, and the ecosystem has been re-established in the area surrounding the stream (i.e. approximately 5.5 km). Additionally, the cropping area has been increased by 20 hectares, and the disease causing vectors have been eliminated. The water holding capacity of the stream has been increased. Approximately, 50 families have been benefited in terms of increase in agriculture produce. Previously, the authorities had to shift 100–150 SC families residing on both sides of the stream to camps for about 4–5 months during the monsoon season. No flood is reported during the previous monsoon so the residents of the area are now happy that they are staying in their own dwellings during the monsoon. Many residents have installed the Chinese fishing nets and are getting a good catch worth around Rs. 700 per day per net. The farmers are now engaged in their seasonal vegetable cultivation in the paddy fields, which they had given up during previous years with the onset of monsoon. The Departments of Fisheries, Agriculture and Irrigation have provided assistance to the residents in finding better livelihoods.

Voice

“We don’t know how to express our gratitude to those who executed the Karippechal conservation project. The project not only empowered the whole community but also strengthened the lives of people living along the banks. The project has given us a new life and a better livelihood”. —Omana Shivan, Kuruppankulangara

“We stayed in the rehabilitation camp for half of the year, and this project helped us to stay back at our own places without any fear. We hope that more projects will be developed for the sustainability of Karippechal, which could make our living conditions and living culture much better”. —Subhadra, Kuruppankulangara

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