Five tribal children have reportedly died due to malnutrition at Attappady in Palakkad district of Kerala this year.

About two lakh people in Palakkad’s Chittur taluk are facing acute drinking water shortage even as a high-level central team visited the drought-affected areas there on Tuesday.

Officials of the Kerala Water Resources Department said the shortage would be severe if Tamil Nadu did not release water from Parambikulam. Drought has already destroyed paddy cultivation to the tune of Rs 80 crore in the district. Chittur is the worst affected.

Mahatma Gandhi University Vice-Chancellor A.V. George has called for the preparation of a comprehensive water management plan for the entire State as it faced the possibility of a severe drought.

He was inaugurating a seminar on ‘Groundwater Resource of Kerala: Retrospect and Prospects’ organised by the Department of Geology, Government College, Kottayam, on Wednesday.

Labourers From NE Could Be Carriers Of Leishmaniasis

Thiruvananthapuram: After a study on domestic migrant labourers revealed that a growing number among them might be carriers of HIV virus, a new fear has emerged that they could be also carriers of Leishmaniasis, also known as Black Fever or Kala Azar, a fever spread by sand fly bite. With the health department confirming that two cases of Leishmaniasis have been identified in the state and both patients have succumbed to the disease, it is suspected that Leishmaniasis, a kind of fever widely reported in northeastern states, has reached Kerala shores through migrant labourers.

As part of a project to tackle man-animal conflict in the North Wayanad forest division, villages bordering the forests in the Thirunelly grama panchayat limits have been ringed with a 34-km solar fence to stave off raids by wild animals. The Kerala Forest Development Corporation has installed the fence for the Forest and Wildlife Department. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has financed the work.

Minister for Forests K.B. Ganesh Kumar inaugurated the first phase of the project at Kattikulam, near Mananthavady, on Tuesday.

Thrissur: Palakkad, one of the major rice producing areas in the state, is staring at the worst drought in recent times. As per a study conducted by the agricultural department, out of the 43,000 hectares of paddy fields in the district, 6,050 hectare have been affected by drought this season.

Palakkad principal agricultural officer G Sudarsanan said, “The report shows, Alathur, Kuzhalmannam, Malampuzha, Nenmara, Chittur and Kollangode blocks have severely been affected. The estimated loss in paddy cultivation due to drought is Rs 24.13 crore this season.”

Thrissur: A panel constituted to work on demarcating ecologically-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state on Monday visited the Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad and held deliberations with the public.

The panel members, comprising MLAs T N Prathapan, N Shamsudeen and state wildlife board officials, decided to recommend to the Union ministry of environment and forests to declare the entire 148-sq km buffer zone around the park as an ecologically-sensitive zone.

Severe drought conditions have led to drying up of the river

The Bharathapuzha is a trickle. Severe drought conditions and drying up of the river have virtually brought it under the control of the sand-mining lobby. Hundreds of truckloads of sand are collected from the river bed in blatant violation of rules. The authorities have so far failed to initiate any action to stop the indiscriminate mining of sand. A few officials who had sought to take action against the ‘sand mafia’ had been physically attacked. The government took no action to provide protection to them.

The environment organisations have come out strongly against the new move of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to revive the Pathrakadavu hydroelectric project.

The project was proposed as an alternative to the Silent Valley project, being taken up now at the Silent Valley buffer zone in Mannarkkad taluk of the District. They said since the area was declared as the ‘buffer zone’ of the unique Silent Valley National Park it would be extremely difficult for the State government to recommend the project to the Centre, as they had to go through a plethora of statutory provisions and formalities.

Failed monsoons have led to an acute scarcity of water

Drinking water rationing is being considered in Kerala, the land of 44 rivers. Acute scarcity of drinking water has gripped most of the districts in the State, and the authorities may ration the quantity of drinking water for each household. The situation may turn worse during the peak summer months when most of the drinking water sources either dry up or are reduced to a trickle, it is feared.