Thursday, 29 October 2015

Vellayani kayal

Vellayani or Vellayani kayal as known in local language is one of the three rain-fed freshwater lakes in Kerala, the other two being Sasthamcotta lake in Kollam and Pookkode lake in Wayanad. Vellayani lake, is the largest fresh water lake in Thiruvananthapuram district, of Kerala.  The lake is located about 7 km away from Kovalam. The lake water is extensively used for drinking and irrigational purposes. The lake is under the threat of pollution, encroachment and sand mining. It has been observed that the area of the lake, which was 750 ha in 1926, had been reduced to 397.5 ha by 2005. The lake was a tourist resort during the erstwhile Travancore era. Till 1953, it was used only to grow lotus flowers for the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple. The `Grow more Food' programme launched by the Government in the early 1950s had led to the reclamation of vast areas for cultivation. It is a common practice to dewater the lake twice annually for paddy cultivation by the farmers. Ironically, the five panchayats surrounding the lake- Thiruvallam, Kalliyoor, Venganoor, Nemom and Kovalam- go dry during summer forcing the Government to spend a huge sum to reach water in mobile tankers. According to the Head of the Resource Analysis Division at the Centre for Earth Science Studies, K. Soman, "Having been part of the lake, the fields retain a lower layer of sand caused by sedimentation. Removal of this layer is bound to affect the water table in the region. The resultant decrease in hydraulic pressure will also lead to salinity intrusion beyond the spillway."  An Environment Impact Assessment by the CESS (2003) had pointed out that removal of laterite soil from the hills in the neighboring Thiruvallam drastically changes not only the `wetland landscape' but also its ecology and habitat characteristics.


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