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From the preface:
"Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need, and a precious national asset (National Water Policy, 1987}. The State of Kerala, by virtue of its location, is well endowed with water resources. lt faces, however, serious problems in terms of availability, quantity, and quality of water available tor use. Water quality deterioration aggravates the problem of availability. A prudent management action plan is called for to tackle the problems and to initiate remedial measures.
A water-rich state like Kerala is paradoxically enough, confronted with water shortage in some parts ot the state during the dry months of the year. The terrain condition of the state with hard rock and steeply sloping land imposes certain restrictions on ground water recharge and soil water, and there is little or no control on incoming rainfall. Therefore, judicious management practice of land cover and water structures is needed to overcome the problems.
In spite ot water being a decentralised resource, most of our management practices follow a centralised mode; as a result serious problems have cropped up in the realm of water resource management. It may be incidentally mentioned that most ot our water management programmes are project-driven and consequently sectoral in implementation and partial in achievement. lt is necessary to orient the programmes to the policy-driven direction to realise the desired goals. Such a shift in orientation calls for a multidisciplinary and holistic approach for considering water a part ot the ecosystem and not just a commodity to be priced and transacted.
Despite widespread awareness about the problems related to water, there is hardly any attempt to study the problems in-depth. Water resource management involves various issues like ecology, availability, use, status, institutional arrangement, and policy.
Considering the importance of local level planning in prudent management of water, KRPLLD (Kerala Research Programme tor Local Level Development), has evinced keen interest and initiated a few micro-level projects on various aspects of water resources in the state. Site-specific studies on access to drinking water, irrigation water management, environmental problems within river basins, surface water quality, groundwater fluctuations, status of wetlands, water harvesting structures, micro watershed management, interventions on water resources, water quality, and land and water management have brought out several issues of vital importance and their micro-dimensions.
This volume endeavours to provide the profiles ofthe diverse water-related micro-level problems which Kerala encounters at present, as brought out by these studies. With a view to contextualising the discussion, a brief account ot the geographical features and the land and water resources of the state are presented as a prelude, in Chapters I and ll. The case studies are presented under the following subject areas (1) drinking water and irrigation (Chapter llI), (2) water management, water harvesting and area development (Chapter IV), (3) environmental problems, biodiversity loss and eco-restoration (Chapter V) and (4) river systems and groundwater tables (Chapter VI). The general conclusions are drawn in Chapter Vll."