PALAKKAD: The residents of Muthalamada are a distressed lot. They fear that drinking water may become a rare commodity in the panchayat soon. This is because of the move of a well-known distillery to set up a unit there which will require crores of litres of water daily for its production. United Distilleries, which has submitted an application in the Muthalamada panchayat to set up a distillery, proposes to utilise water from Gayathri puzha which flows through the panchayat.
It is the Meenkara puzha, a tributary of the Bharathapuzha, which branches off as the Gayathri puzha from Kollengode.The Gayathri puzha then joins the Ayilur and Mangalam puzha at Alathur and joins the Bharathapuzha at Thiruvilwamala.
As the Bharathapuzha has dried up in many places due to sand mining and encroachment, the government moves to set up distilleries near it will further accentuate the drinking water shortage faced by the the people.
Already the failure of the State Government to get due share of water from the inter-State Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) from Tamil Nadu, which has diverted the major share of water by building half-a-dozen dams, has resulted in the drying up of Bharathapuzha (Nila), the longest river in the state, said the organising secretary of the Bharathapuzha Samrakshana Samithy Dr P S Panicker.
He said though the president of the Muthalamada panchayat S V Selvan has said that they will not allow the United Distilleries to set up a unit in Muthalamada, the board of the panchayat was yet to ratify this decision.
Panicker pointed out that the proposed distillery will be utilising 2 crore litres of water daily which will further dry up the river.
Muthalamada panchayat president S Selvan demanded an inquiry into the consumption of water by ‘Imperial Spirits’ which has a unit near the Meenkara dam and was functioning for the last one decade in a drought-prone area.The district conference of the Greens organised by ‘Punarjani,’ an eco-friendly organisation, has also said that the sanctioning of distilleries along the banks of the Bharathapuzha will create water shortage.
‘Punarjani’ office-bearer Bobban Mattumantha also demanded that an expert committee be set up to study the water exploitation by the distilleries in the district.