Tread carefully when it comes to manipulating natural systems -Kusala Rajendran
Whether it is to manage the flood situation of Yamuna or water logging of Kuttanad, we should adopt a similar strategy and promote the “give water its space” concept. Forcing water bodies to give up their space or change their courses, as envisaged in the country-wide river interlinking project will lead to irreversible consequences, learning from the examples before us.
The monsoon is an unsettling time in India, with reports of heavy rains and flooding coming from different parts of the country, including Delhi and Mumbai. In the south, reservoirs are reaching their danger mark and rivers are breaching their banks. In the north, the Yamuna was flowing close to its warning level. These days, any news on rains and flooded roads and homes in metro cities is linked to flash floods and clogged drainage systems. This is partly true, but many other parts of the country are also witnessing such floods and they are not always due to clogged drains.
There are many anthropogenic factors that increase a river’s potential to damage its surrounding areas. Just as the Yamuna laments for its lost space, there are other water systems that are choked by poor water engineering. The choked water bodies of Kuttanad in Kerala’s Alleppey district are an excellent example of how ill-conceived engineering remedies have proven to be counter productive. With its unique geographic location below the sea level, Kuttanad was always prone to water logging but people have lived here for centuries, dealing with excess water. Yet this monsoon has been chaotic. With most homes submerged and crops destroyed, a flourishing landscape with its rich biotic diversity, the “rice bowl” of Kerala is turning to a bowl of sorrow.
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