Kerala is blessed with rich endowment of water resources. It has a high average annual precipitation of approximately 3,000 mm and has 44 small and medium rivers, several lakes, ponds, a vast stream network, as well as many springs and extensive wetlands. However, this natural system of water resources varies both spatially and temporally, resulting in occasional floods and droughts. The high intensity storms during the monsoons result in heavy discharges in all the rivers, while the prolonged dry seasons jeopardize farmers’ incomes and people’s livelihoods. Additionally, Kerala has a diverse topography ranging from the high ranges (Anamudi Peak at 2,695 meters) to midland and coastal plains and lowland areas near the coast that fall three meters below sea level, all within a 100-kilometer (km) distance. This combination of intense rainfall in the high ranges with a drastic elevation difference over a short distance causing peak runoffs, combined with flat terrain towards the western coast presents the conditions for flooding like that witnessed in August of 2018.
Globally, Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is increasingly being recognized as the potential tool to tackle the water related issues due to the current climate change scenario. Water resources management in Kerala presents an opportunity as much as a challenge and there is a need to improve the three ‘levers’ or ‘determinants’ of: (i) Information and Analysis -Water Resources Information System (ii) Institutions and Policy Framework -River Basin Conservation & Management Authority- RBCMA and (iii) Investment Planning and Implementation- To improve the development potential of water resources, including making more productive use for various purposes (hydropower, agriculture, fisheries, energy, water supply-domestic needs), for reducing water- related risks & vulnerability of the State to floods, coastal erosion, sedimentation, environmental water stress and pollution.
Hence the August 2018 floods have catalyzed the State’s commitment to improve water resources planning, development, and management to decrease its vulnerability to water-related risks.
This presents a major opportunity for Kerala and its management of water resources to rebuild and reform in a more sustainable & resilient manner. RKI accorded Rs.448.08 crores in this sector. Following are the key projects:
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