decades, touching Rs 719.53 crore by the Ninth Five-Year Plan. All along, the issue of water conversation has been ignored. "Kerala, which is one of the wettest places in the country, is behind arid Rajasthan in per capita availability of drinking water," says Dr E J James, executive director of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode.
In Vypin, an island off mainland Kochi, it's hard to walk more than a few hundred feet without getting one's feet wet. But the groundwater is almost entirely saline and unfit for drinking. Being at the extreme end of the pipeline system, the people here have to queue up at public taps for much longer.
Kerala has been experiencing law rainfall regularly since 1980. Vembanad lake, included in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance, has lost one-third of its approximately 250 sq km to encroachment. Bharathpuzha, the second largest river in Kerala, on which 23 lakh people in 103 gram panchayats depend, has been reduced to a thin stream.
In 2003, the government declared seven out of 14 districts in the state drought-affected. According to expert opinion, government policies over the years have