As part of the efforts at protecting the environment with focus on the water sources, L. Pankajakshan, Coordinator of the Santhigram School of Ecology, has submitted a petition to the President of the Kottukal Grama Panchayat. In the letter he has drawn attention to the state of ground water pollution due to the dumping of human wastes into the school well, which had gone dry. The letter was based on the resolutions arrived at in the Watch Dog Committee meeting held on 6 and 19 Januaray 2011. The letter cites a study conducted by the Committee promoted by Santhigram and Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai.
The findings of the study cited in the letter include:
- About 10 years ago an open public well was dug at a depth of over 100 meters in the premises of the Kazhuvur Moolakara Govt.L.P.School for the use of children studying in the school and the public.
- As a consequence of the ruin of the Kottukal wetlands and the over exploitation of ground water in the nearby areas, the school well went completely dry.
- The children and teachers of the school were given polluted water from the Kollakonam-Vengapotta water tank of Kerala water Authority (KWA).
- No action has been taken either by the concerned authorities or by the public to resolve this vital issue of providing safe drinking water to the school children and teachers.
- The dry well was subsequently used a as dump for all kinds of wastes, including the discharges from the urinals and latrines used by the students and teachers.
- On 5-6 March 2010 during a public meeting conducted in connection with the school anniversary, L. Pankajakshan brought this issue to the attention of the school as well as the Panchayat authorities.
- The local elected representative on the spot made a public announcement that the issue would be resolved within a month.
- But so far no action has been taken.
- All kinds of wastes are dumped into the Kottukal Canal, the only surviving canal in the area.
- The projects prepared by the Grama Panchayat under the 11th Plan make no mention of any action for resolving this vital issue.
- The MNREGS is a potential tool for educating the people on the need for natural resource conservation and food security etc. But the Panchayat activities under the MNREGS are not environment- friendly. Social audit has become a farce. People as well as the mates are not educated on the aims and objectives of the scheme.
The petition has made several suggestions including:
- It is urgent that we find a sustainable solution to the problem of no clean water in the Moolakkara LPS. Failure can lead to severe health hazards.
- Conduct a detailed investigation into the status of the drinking water wells in the Panchayat, with focus on wells in elevated areas such as Moolakkara and Sree Narayanapuram.
- Conduct a study on the water sources that were active once in the Kottukal lowland areas and what happened to them and the condition of the existing water sources in the area.
- Plan measures for conserving the existing sources and saving the ones that are on the verge of extinction.
- Discourage chemical farming in the area and promote eco-friendly farming practices.
- Ensure safe drinking water to all the families.
- Constitute peoples committees for the protection of environment, conservation of natural resources and promotion of food security.
- Take prompt action to punish those who pollute water sources.
- Work out a master plan based on data for sustainable use of natural resources.
- Build awareness among the people, with focus on those who are involved in the MNREGS on the need for natural resource conservation and environmental protection, climate change etc.
- Incorporate the theme of climate change in all educational and capacity building activities of the Panchayat.