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Regions under three blocks in Palakkad and Kasaragod district have been notified as ‘overexploited’ and ‘critical’ based on the status of groundwater extraction, as per a fresh notification issued by the State government.
The Chittur-Thathamangalam municipality and the Elappully, Polpully, Eruthempathy, Kozhinjampara, Nallepilly, Perumatty, Vatakarapathy panchayats under the Chittur block in Palakkad district are categorised as ‘overexploited.’
Regions under the Malampuzha block in Palakkad district and Kasaragod block in Kasaragod district have been listed as ‘critical,’ the second category in terms of severity. This includes Malampuzha, Akathethara, Puthupariyaram, Marutharode, Puthussery and Kodumba panchayats in Malampuzha block in addition to the Kasaragod municipality, and the Badiadka, Chemnad, Chengla, Kumbala and Mogral-Puthur panchayats in Kasaragod district.
These are regions where groundwater extraction is more than 90%, demanding intensive monitoring, evaluation and water conservation measures linked with micro-level studies. The notification is based on the report on groundwater resources estimation carried out by the State Groundwater department and the Central Groundwater Board, and Section 6 (1) of the Kerala Groundwater (Control and Regulation) Act, 2002.
The new notification replaces the one issued in November 2005 which had notified five blocks – Athiyannoor in Thiruvananthapuram district, Kodungallur in Thrissur district, Chittur in Palakkad, Kozhikode in Kozhikode district and Kasaragod in Kasaragod district – in the ‘overexploited’ category. This notification now stands cancelled. However, in the new notification, Chittoor block has been retained in the ‘overexploited’ category while Kasaragod block has been brought down to the ‘critical’ category.
Activities related to groundwater extraction in the notified regions, including construction of wells, requires prior permission from the State Groundwater Authority, the State government said.
Section 7 (1) of the Act notes; ”Any person desiring to dig a well or to convert the existing well into pumping well, for his own or social purpose in the notified area, shall submit an application before the authority for the grant of a permit for the purpose and shall not proceed with any activity connected with such digging or conversion unless a permit has been granted by the authority.”
Of the 152 ‘units’ assessed by the State groundwater department and the CGWB in 2017, 30 blocks were categorised as ‘semi critical’, while 119 blocks were deemed ‘safe.