Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine replies to a submission raised by Kottayam MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan
Amidst a raging debate over the ongoing flood risk management activities in the Meenachil river, the State government has reiterated its plan to desilt the water body and clear fallen trees from riverbanks.
Replying to a submission raised by Kottayam MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine said in the Assembly recently that the Irrigation Department had taken up a ₹45 lakh project for the purpose.
“As part of promoting inland navigation, the silt accumulated on the riverbed too will be removed. A part of the silt will be used for strengthening the riverbanks, while the remaining volume will be deposited along the low-lying parts of the water body,” he said.
In his submission, the Kottayam MLA had demanded urgent steps for desilting the river and its major tributaries to ensure smooth flow of water.
According to Mr. Radhakrishnan, people living in the low-lying areas on the outskirts of Kottayam municipality have to endure great difficulties during the monsoons owing to floods in the Meenachil. He also urged the government to take steps for construction of the retaining walls, desiltation of the riverbed and removal of fallen trees on the banks.
The government’s response, meanwhile, has drawn sharp reactions from conservationists who reiterated that any unscientific development activity would damage the riverine environment. They also called for detailed studies before stepping into desilting and other activities.
“As mandated by various courts and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a district-level survey should be carried out before initiating the desiltation process. Noting that the ongoing flood risk management activities between Chungam and Kanjram are under the consideration of the NGT, the government should also wait till the tribunal pronounces an order on the matter,” said N. Unnikrishnan, secretary, Kottayam Nature Society.