New authority to be formed to conserve rivers in Kerala

SN Jayaprakash

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has decided to form a river management authority to conserve the streams and rivers in the state. This was necessitated by the World Bank agreement for funding the Rebuilding Kerala scheme following the devastating floods of 2018.

The Kerala River Basin Conservation and Management Authority Bill is under the review of the law department. The WB agreement stated that the authority should start functioning by 2022. The World Bank will provide Rs 980 crore as second installment. For this, it requires implementation of special projects to prevent flooding of the Pamba river.

Subject experts also expetcted to be part of new authority. The authority's powers are expected to be the following: stop encroachments, maintain the depth of the river, prevent pollution and prevent flood. Even though sections to stop river pollution exist in the Panchayati Raj act and some other acts, they are not implemented properly.

A law for forming a special authority to conserve Pamba river was passed in the Assembly in 2009. But issuing the notification was withheld to introduce a new authority for all rivers. But debates about whether the serving chief secretary or a retired chief secretary shall lead the authority delayed the process.

The agreement with WB also has clauses like 23,000 crop insurances for farmers by 2024, masterplan for 4 municipalities near Pamba by 2026, and comprehensive weather communication system in 200 grama panchayats.

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