Palakkad: Bharathapuzha, one of the major rivers in the state, is in dire straits.
As the river is reduced to a narrow stretch of water, wilderness have taken over several parts. Bushes and trees have started growing even in the middle of the river at Kodumba in Palakkad district to Ponnani in Malappuram.
Palm trees were found flourishing at VK Kadavu at Thrithala in Palakkad. These bushes and trees were also set ablaze in some parts, creating an alarming image of a river on fire.
Apart from the trees and bushes, humans are also infiltrating the river bed. A road was constructed by encroaching on the river near Pattambi bridge. The encroachment was reported from an area where the Collector had issued a stop memo. Several such encroachments were reported at Pattambi and Thrithala.
This did not happen overnight.
Encroachments, floods, change in agricultural land along the river banks, unscientific use of land in the catchment area, the lack of coordination at the government level and unscientific projects have all spelled doom for the river.
Plus, there is no concrete measure undertaken to save one of the most celebrated rivers of the state.
Though sand mining has been banned in Bharathapuzha, it is being carried out discreetly in some parts, especially along the river banks. As sand is not taken from the middle, trees and bushes are growing in this raised portion.
Sand mining has also led to erosion, causing the river banks to cave it. The structure of the river has been altered. The bamboo plants, part of the riparian vegetation, are no longer seen along the banks of Bharathapuzha.
Floods wreaked havoc
Floods have reduced the depth and width of Bharathapuzha. Fertile soil, known as humus, are formed naturally in the river bed. This fertile soil helps to hold the water. However, this has been washed away in the floods.
A research study conducted by Ahalia Engineering College students had found that the soil that gets deposited in the river bed during the floods cannot hold the water. Their study also proved that this soil had also altered the nature of the river at Gayathri Puzha and Korapuzha.
However, not many incidents of erosion were reported at Kunthipuzha as the trees at Silent Valley prevent the soil from getting washed into the river.