Soil Conservation department salvages ponds as part of NABARD-supported drought mitigation scheme
The Department of Soil Survey and Soil Conservation has renovated 56 traditional public ponds in Palakkad district as part of addressing drought. The renovation has been done over the last five years with a ?15-crore financial support by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
As many as 53 of the renovated ponds were inaugurated and handed over to the respective local bodies. The remaining three - Vayilyakunnil Siva Temple pond at Kadambazhipuram, Vellachiyamman Kulam at Vadakarapathy and Kanakkampadam Kulam at Karimpa, are nearing completion.
The project that was planned for two years was delayed because of ownership issues over certain ponds. COVID-19 too caused the delay in the final stages. “We are happy that we could address the problem of water shortage in some areas by renovating the filled ponds,” said Thara Manoharan, district soil conservation officer.
About 30 per cent of the ponds renovated had been completely filled, some of which did not even appear as ponds. For example, the one at Kodumbu Polytechnic had become a play ground. “Many realised the importance of reconverting the water body only when we did it,” said Ms. Manoharan.
The Soil Survey and Soil Conservation department salvaged 56 ponds as part of a scheme for drought mitigation through water body renovation. It roped in the local bodies not only to propose the public ponds but also to take charge of their maintenance after the renovation.
The ponds were deepened, desilted and strengthened by building retaining walls. Some of the ponds were dirty and unusable. Some had even drains channeled into them.
The soil excavated from the ponds was given to the respective local bodies. The panchayats auctioned it and would use the revenue for the pond’s maintenance.
The ponds renovated were spread in 22 panchayats in Palakkad, Malampuzha, Kuzhalmannam, Chittur, Kollangode, Mannarkkad and Sreekrishnapuram blocks. In Kuzhalmannam block, there were 12 ponds, nine in Malapuzha and Mannarkkad blocks, eight each in Palakkad, Chittur and Kollangode blocks, and two in Sreekrishnapuram block.
Among the ponds renovated is the historic Koomankulam, which had found a reference in O.V. Vijayan’s acclaimed novel KhasakkinteIthihasam. The Chunnamberi Kulam at Muthalamada was the largest pond renovated for which ?60.5 lakh was spent.
Local residents had come up with a variety of suggestions when the department began the renovation work. “We could incorporate most of the demands. After all, the ponds are for the people,” said Ms. Manoharan.