Even though Kerala is blessed with more than 40 rivers, lakes and other water sources, drought hits every summer, incurring huge loss to farmers, who are prone to vagaries of nature and the market. Ill-management of water resources and irrigation water complicates things further, badly affecting agriculture sector and the state's economy.

 

Now, Kerala has embarked on an ambitious mission to double its paddy production in five years. But where does it find the water to irrigate these fields?


Major irrigation projects planned with tall claims remain in limbo, thanks to corruption and apathy, with their cost escalation mounting ridiculously high. Nearly four decades after the work of four major irrigation projects started, the government is now mulling of halting these money-guzzling projects. 

 

Here is a look at four irrigation projects that are dragging for long, causing huge burden to the ecology and the state exchequer.

 

Karappuzha irrigation project:

  • Started: 1978
  • Plan: Construction of an earth dam across Karappuzha dam in Wayanad and to irrigate 8721 hactares of paddy in three taluks of Wayanad.
  • Estimated cost: Rs.7.60 cr.
  • Revised estimate in 2010: Rs.441.50 cr
     
  • Present status: partially commissioned in 2010.
  • Irrigation potential of the commissioned project: 608 ha.
  • Head works, works of right and left bank canals completed. 47 % branch canals completed and 5% of works of distributories completed.
  • Money spent so far: 322.87 crore
     
  • What next: Planned at Rs.7 crore, the project has crossed Rs.322 crores now. Irrigates 600 hactares where as the original plan was to irrigate 8700 ha. Many crores have flown down the canals since 1978. What else should the government do other than taking an immediate decision to stop the flow of money down the stream?
Karappuzha project

 

Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project: 

  • Started: 1974
  • Plan: To utilise the water from the Moolamattom Power House of the Idukki Hydro Electric Project. 
  • Estimated cost: Rs. 20.86 cr.
  • Revised estimate: Rs.945 cr
  • Money spent so far: Rs. 918 cr
  • Present status: partially commissioned in 1994.
  •  Central loan assistance of Rs. 154.96 was released during 2001-09.

 

Idamalayar Irrigation Project

  • Started: 1981
  • Plan: Divert water for irrigating 14,394 ha. in Periyar and Chalakkudy river basins. It also planned to improve and augment Chalakkudy river diversion scheme.
  • Primary estimation: Rs. 17.85 cr.
  • Revised estimate as in 2012: Rs.750 cr
  • Money spent until 2016: Rs. 426.54 cr
  • Present status:  Total irrigation potential achieved 2391.66 ha. The target was to irrigate over 14,300 ha.

 

Banasurasagar Irrigation Project:

  • Started: 1979
  • Plan: To irrigate 2800 ha of agriculture land in two taluks of Wayanad district. 
  • Initial estimation: Rs.8 cr.
  • Revised estimate as in 2010: Rs.185.5 cr
  • Money spent so far: Rs. 52.78 cr
  • Present status:  86% of 2730 m long canal completed. Work of two branch canals dragging. No one knows when the farmers would see water flow in these canals.