The local residents are joining hands with the Swasthi foundation to revive the Vellayani Lake which is the lifeline and a source of water for thousands of people….

‘Revive Vellayani’ project aims to restore the lake’s pristine form after clearing weeds, water hyacinth, and waste, dumped over decades. As part of the project, the weeds and garbage would be removed. The project is being implemented with the cooperation of Santhigiri Ashram, Kerala Fire & Rescue Services, the water resource department, Kerala Police, District Administration, Citizens India Foundation, Indian Medical Association, Rotary Club,

T K A Nair IAS


Vellayani Lake is a rich wetland that was once the home of abundance of Flora and Fauna, the second largest wetland and fresh water lake in Kerala. This lake is now on the threshold of an untimely demise. This would be a major offset to the fragile eco-system and will affect the livelihood and age old lifestyle of the locality adversely. A large percentage of the lake surface has been covered by weeds, some of which are of foreign origin and unsuitable for the unique environment of the lake ( A cursory observation, which will be substantiated by aerial mapping shortly, places the infestation at close to 50% of the lake surface). The lake is already lost its visitation of a large number of migratory birds. This eco-impact, is immediately unrecognizable, but has already made. subtle changes in the groundwater quality and fish population of the lake There is no doubt that this will surely  create a huge environmental deficit to the already stretched ecology not only in the periphery of the; lake, but of the entire district.

After extensive studies, six distinct causes were identified. Revive Vellayani project has placed plans of action in place to tackle each of the causes.The causes identified are

1) Absence of a reliable bio diversity photo register.

2) Weed Growth and Invasive Alien Species that threaten the native aquatic flora. 

3) Using the lake to dump waste including non-degradable items. 

4) Lack of awareness and sustainable interest among the ;local populace   

5) No serious attempt so far to invoke the interest of International Conventions like RAMSAR CONVENTION.

6) Land encroachments and unscientific use of lake land, decimation of the lake area for farming and unauthorised construction

The Project

The Project envisages a viable, sustainable and comprehensive plan to address each of the above mentioned issues, effectively. The key impetus will be in garnering the participation and co-operation of the local populace and interested organizations. It also corners on the concept of Sustainable Upkeep of the Lake through introducing lake tourism and eco-friendly aqua sports activities, awareness campaigns in the vicinity of the lake, possible regular policing of the lake in the form of lake patrol and in getting the Lake recognised as a Ramsar Site. The project also takes care not to side step any of the issues and to regularise all the steps taken and follow up on every step .This project shall not accept any outside funds and not collections sjhall be conducted by the project administration or any of the association

Revive Vellayani Project, shall cover all  three phases of activity, research and planning, required action addressing the issue and side issues if any and following up in the action taken, to maintain the beneficial results.

FOCUS: Restoring Vellayani Lake to its former state. Maintaining the lake for the perpetuity and ensuring its Natural Sanctity. Bringing back the Fauna and Flora that once made the lake unique. Preventing the dumping of garbage in the lake or around it

The Key Areas of Action

  1. Awareness On Wetlands Conservation Drive
  2.  School and College Drive
  3. Local Residents Associations
  4. Local Self Government Bodies
  5.  Lake Bio Diversity Study and register
  6. Photo Documentation of Lake, Native Fauna and Flora
  7. Preparation an publication of Bio Diversity register
  8. Cleaning
  9. De-Weeding of the Lake, by Mechanical Weed Harvester
  10. Bio Remediation using microbes
  11. Desilting ( to be conducted by State Irrigation Department)
  • Sustainable Livelihood Programmes study and implementation for Local Inhabitants
  • Follow up on the projects done so far on the suitability of water molasses and weeds
  • Use alternate usage of Water Molasses – liaise with experts like Nagendra Prasad
  • Government involvement sought for  creating No Dump Zone in and around the Lake

The First Phase (Research and Planning)

The first phase of the project was launched with the acceptance of the proposal from Revive Vellayani by State Wetlands Authority Kerala (SWAK). The Authority accepted the Objectives of the project to

  • To rejuvenate, restore and strengthen the Wetland Eco System
  • To create a bio diversity photo register and mapping of Vellayani Lake
  • Video Documentation of the Vellayani lake
  • Implement sustainable livelihood activities like value addition from water weeds.

The bio diversity photo register has been initiated with the initial aerial mapping and photo survey of the lake to be started on 25th of April 2019 and shall cover the entire lake surface. The compilation will be published within 6 months but considering seasonal nature of visitation of migratory birds may be added to in the forth coming months, hence.

The action shall involve, photos and videos, of the fauna and flora of the lake, a possible study of fish population, substantiated with photographic evidence, and cross referencing with the existing registers. The register shall have essential data with regards the previous records of migratory bird visitation, native and alien flora, fish population etc..

The photo register is necessitated by the absence of visual referencing points for any actual study. While many registers are in existence there are no photo registers.

This phase will also have in place an extensive video document. This shall prove most useful in the quest to get Vellayani accepted as a Ramsar Site. The Video Document shall also be completed within 8 months starting May 2019.

Running parallel to the documentation will be the awareness campaign for the local population. They will be reached through the local self-governments bodies, residents associations and other local bodies. The training for the sustainable value addition through processing of the weed will also be run alongside and Revive Vellayani has already received verbal assurance from Dr Nagendra Prabhu in this regard.

The Second Phase (De-weeding of the lake).

The de-weeding of the Lake shall be initiated by the second week of May 2019. It shall involve harvesting of the weeds by mechanical means like weed harvesters. MatProp has signed an agreement with Revive Vellayani in this regard. As per the agreement Matprop has agreed to conduct the weed harvesting in approximately 30 days depending on the rate of wed infestation. The expense borne by Revive Vellayani will only be the incidentals, like diesel and operator charges. The estimated cost is approximately Rs 10000/ day.

Revive Vellayani has been able to garner support from various organization to take onus of the expense of the de-weeding process. The major contributors are 1) Shanthigiri Ashram 2) CitizensIndia Foundation 3) Mar Ivanious College NSS  4) Advocates Housing Co-Operative Society Ltd .

The harvested weeds will be initially moved to lakeside properties that have agreed to accept remove weeds. The parties athat have agreed are Daksha Sheth Company, Neertahdakam, Adv Punchakkari ravi,  Fr Felix (CIMR) and, Mr Preman. The bulk of the weeds will be composted under the guidance of Dr Biju Joseph of the Government College of Agriculture, Vellayani, and some of it will be used for the value addition training and eventual use.

The de-weeding starts in May and will start at Vavvamoola Bund rRoad. The plan is to clean the ingress end to prevent further infestation. The harvester will cover an approximate 2 acres a day and this end with its 70% infestation will take up to 10 days to be cleared.  The flow channels will be netted to prevent flow down of weed. The second phase covering the near end, with an estimated 50% infestation will take close to 7 days. The lower reservoir will take more than 12 days to complete. The completion of the far end de weeding will coincide with the commencement of beautification of that end. Christ Nagar School, will bear the responsibility of beautification and subsequent maintenance.

The beautification of the other areas shall be based on the results of the efforts at this end.

The Third Phase ( Beautification of the Lake Periphery, Police Patrol, Prevention of Waste Disposal and  attempts at Ramsar Convention Acknowledgement).

The final phase shall include beautification of the lake, like construction of a Lake Walkway, Aqua Sports like Game Fishing ets

Talks are afoot to get Police set up a lake patrol to prevent misuse and littering of the lake and prevent encroachment.

Get local self government bodies to pass legislation to prevent waste disposal in the lake prevent unauthorised constructions etcand constitute local watch societiies to enable this.

Use the video document and other resources to get the site a Ramsar Convention status.

Project Progression

Step by step progression of the project

Phase 1:  Study, awareness and register creation

1. Bio Diversity Photo Register, photo collection over a period of months keeping in mind migratory habits of avian species, photographing and compilation of flora species.. Bio classification and approval of a document of publication quality and publication of the same by viable media. Responsibility shall be with Adarsh Prathap  in the preparation of the document and will take suitable guidance from Dr Kamarudeen Kunju of Kerala University. Swasthi Foundation will provide necessary infrastructure and material help for the same

2  Awareness Drives amongst local population and at school/college levels. Swasthi Foundation will accomplish this with the help of LSG Bodies. There are two panchayats sharing the ownership of the Lake area , Kalliyoor and Venganoor. The two panchayats have agreed to support the awareness drives Residents associations will also be used to lend a helping hand. Federation of Residents association have been contacted with positicve response towards this end..

3.  Swasthi Team of doctors have initiated a health assessment and redressal drive, to reach the maximum number of people in the lake area. The recompiled report on water quality assessment and the fact that this water is being used for cooking and drinking points to need for medical assessment of health.

4. Sustainable livelihood methods will be devised from the use of the weeds to make value added products, along with composted weed manure and possibly bio gas. This step will also enhance the public acceptability of the project overall.

Phase 2:  Cleaning, Bio Remediation and De silting of the lake

Invasive Alien Species of weeds that infest a large area of the lake surface. Weeds are Hycinth, Molasses and Lotus along with some minor species. The damages these weeds can cause are heavy silting of the lake bottom on decay decreasing the effective depth of the lake drastically. The weeds also cover vast areas preventing sunlight from reaching the water thus causing it to lose quality.  This causes the lake to lose area and shrinking of the reservoir capacity. Moreover, the water is losing avian visitation as the water is now unsuitable. A recent recompilation of the water quality show alarming levels of pollutants in the water. iThe solution is to de weed the lake using mechanical weed harvester (MatProp), use bio remediation (Suraz Tech) in the wake to prevent regrowth and purify the water . Then  desilt the lake(Irrigation Dept) to increase the effective depth.  Weeds harvested will be removed immediately to compost zone that have already been identified using JCB and tipper tipper lorries.

1. Cleaning – Weeds will be removed using mechanical weed harvesters. MatProp will be the company that provides the harvesters and will run the operations. The machines in use are zero slippage machines with the capability to clear close to 2 acres of Lake Surface. The machine will clear floating weeds, cut rooted weeds at root level. The weeds identified are Water Hyacinth, Kariba Weeds and Lotus. Lotus harvesting is a livelihood for some of the local population and can only be harvested partially and after due discussion.

Weeds thus removed will be moved to land by the harvester, excavated by JCB and moved to compost zone that have been pre identified. The composted weeds will prove to be used for bio manure. Some of this may also be used to make value added products.

2. Bio remediation – Microbes that feed off the protein in the water will be introduced into the water in areas that have been cleared off weeds. This will prevent the regrowth of weeds in the same areas, and will also increase the water quality, a necessity considering the fact that a huge quantity is being pumped out for household uses.  Suraz Tech is the company that is in charge of the bio remediation process

3. Desilting : Rotten and decayed weeds and human waste dumping has reduced the effective depth drastically. Considering the fact that millions of liters of water are being pumped out for household uses adds to the gravity of the issue. Irrigation department will follow the steps 1 & 2 closely.  Removal of the silt would enhance the depth increase the storage capacity of the lake greatly. The fact that rotten and decayed matter is removed will also eventually enhance the quality of the  water.

Phase 3: Beautification of the Lake and it’s periphery.

Post Phase 2, the next necessity is  to sustain the lake’s sanctity and  to make sure that the lake stays clean and devoid of weeds or waste dumped in it.

The lake will require to be in the focus for long enough to make sure that it is not used as a waste dump. A lake walk is planned around the lake along with nature parks. Bio fencing will act as a barrier against dumping of waste especially plastic waste.  The Sports Authority of India also has plans to start a centre for their Kayaking and canoeing team practice at the lake.

Many associations have joined hands with the Revive Vellayani drive and will join operations in one of the phases by taking on the responsibility of the segment.

Revive Vellayani is a project the success of which is wholly  based on the good will and far sightedness and vision of likeminded people. There has been absolutely no collection of funds for this purpose. I list of all the association who are a part of this novel enterprise is listed below.

Kerala State Government has declared its complete support for this project and the project has gained the support of all political parties  and many social organizations.

Revive Vellayani is an initiative of Swasthi Foundation

The Associations that have joined hand are

  • Trivandrum District Administration
  • Kerala Police
  • Kerala Fire and Rescue Service
  • Citizens India Foundation (CIF)
  • Change Can Change Climate Change
  • College of Agriculture, Vellayani
  • Christ Nagar Senior Secondary School, Thiruvallam,
  • S N United Mission
  • Rotary Club of Trivandrum West
  • SMRV School
  • T M Jacob Memorial Foundation
  • Indian Medical Association, Trivandrum
  • Habitat Technology Group,
  • Santhigiri Ashram
  • Kerala Police Senior Officers Association
  • Kerala Police Officers Association
  • Kerala University Union
  • CIMR
  •  Advocates Housing Co-Operative Society Ltd
  • Mar Ivanios College NSS Unit

Media Partners  –   Metro Manorama and RED FM 93.5

To know more about us visit our website www.revivevellayani.com

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