Prof MVS Namboodri, Vice President of the Pamba Parirakshana Samiti is with us today. First thing in the morning we walk from the Professor’s house at Othera to see the Poorva Pamba or the old Pamba stream. At Pallikadavu near Atthikayam bridge Pamba forks into two. The main branch flows on straight and another branch turns right. This branch is called Poorva Pamba. This branch flows for 4.5kms in a square shape and then rejoins the main Pamba at Puthenkavu.
Poorva Pamba taking a 90 degree turn. Island of Edanad beyond
The land enclosed by this branch of Pamba is the island of Edanad. According to the people who live here, the current course of the river in between Edanattidam and Puthenkaavu had been a cattle track, and because of the causeway constructed in Vanjippottilkadavu near Edanattidam, the original flow was obstructed and Poorva Pamba became a stagnant body of water.
A distributary of poorva Pamba called Varattar used to in the past connect with Manimala river. Varattar has disappeared due to the causeway that blocked water to Poorva pampa and the other usual causes such as encroachments and excessive sand mining. We walk up to the place where Varattar begins. A sand bank with overgrown grass blocks the entrance. Walking along Varattar, we see over grass and bushes, trees and other encroachments. A little ahead we saw the causeway that almost completely blocks flow of water into the poorvapamba.
Varattar River lying dead
Over the years, it also seems that Pamba and Varattar started flowing at two levels thus slowing entry of water into Varattar.
The Pamba Parirkshana Samiti took up the cause of this river and now the Panchayat Presidents of the locality Advocate Rajeev, President of the Eraviperur Panchayat, Nirmala Devi, President of the Koipram Panchayat and Thomas Varghese, President of the Kuttoor Panchayat have joined hands to clear encroachments and revive this river. We wish many such initiatives are taken for the cause of lost and loosing streams and rivers.
A cause way in Varattar that blocks the flow of water
Poorva Pamba branch
Apart from Varattar, the Poorva Pamba or old Pamba branch also faces death. The inflow at the mouth was once about 100 mtrs wide, but now it is just a few metres. A cause way at the mouth of this branch, built to help a contractor take material for the Atthikayam bridge blocks the water from flowing freely. In addition massive silting at the mouth has narrowed the opening drastically. There is a need to dismantle the cause way and widen the mouth urgently to improve the flow in this branch of Pamba.
Pamba forks to form the Poorva Pamba
Edanad on map, see Pamba making a square island
Wetlands at the Aaranmulla project site
is a project which is now almost dead. In any case we travel to the proposed site. At first look the site seems ideal for an airport with the side open expanse that we see. On a closer look we see wide grass lands that were once paddy fields. Already several hillocks have been levelled and many small creeks vanished for ever. Kozhithode river a tributary of Pamba flows through the site with several birds perching almost throughout its length. The area is within a heritage locality with several temples, churches, boat race location and a laid back life of the people around. The whole atmosphere of the place is going to change with an airport. We spoke to a few people who stay in the locality. They have no doubt that with the airport coming they are going to lose either house and livelihood. “Why should so called development take place at our cost. Why should we be sacrificed to benefit others?” they ask.
We have not studied the issue in great detail but all indications are that something is rotten about this project. Several moves have been made in secrecy in this day and age of more openness and transparency in governance.
Sajan, on of the persons we spoke to at the proposed airport site. Most local people oppose the airport