The Kerala government decided constructing the Ambalur-Keecheri dam in Ernakulam district would remedy the decline in paddy production. Instead, the dam has accelerated damage to the crop.
The dam was intended to prevent inflow of saline water from Vembanad lake, which was supposedly lowering crop yields. But agricultural experts now say that as the soil in the Ambalur-Keecheri region is extremely acidic, allowing Vembanad's saline water into the fields during dry periods can neutralise the acidity.
K M George of the rice research station in Vytilla, points out, "In this area, the return in rice farming is never more than 50-75 per cent of the investment. The yield is so poor, labourers refuse to harvest the crop." And Gopalan, who farms and fishes in the area, laments, "If the dam is not opened, we may starve to death."
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