Meenachil River

The Meenachil river flows through the heart of Kottayam  district of Kerala state, India. The river, 78 km long, flows through Poonjar, Teekoy, Erattupetta, Palai, Ettumanoor  and Kottayam  before emptying itself into the Vembanad Lake at Kumarakom, the famous tourist place of Kerala. The Meenachil river is formed by several streams originating from the Western Ghats. The general elevation ranges from 77 m to 1156 m in the high lands and less than 2 m in the lowlands and 8 to 68 m in the midlands. The Meenachil has a watershed area of 1208.11 km². The river has a total annual yield of 2,349 million cubic metre and an annual utilizable yield of 1110 million cubic metre. The river has 38 tributaries including major and minor ones. The river has 47 sub watersheds and 114 micro watersheds.

Tributaries

1. The first tributary, the Teekoy River originates at Vazhikkadavu near Wagamon and flows through Vellikulam, Marmala, Mavadi and Teekoy. It drains the largest quantity of water though a substantial part of the water is now being diverted to Idukki reservoir through a 4 km long tunnel constructed by the Electricity Board at Vazhikkadavu. Seeing this tributary flowing down the deep gorge near Vellikulam from the Wagamon Road is a visual treat. Numerous streams and brooks join this river in its 25 km length to Erattupetta where there is a major confluence of Meenachil river.

2. Another tributary is formed by the stream originating at Illikkal kallu near Thalanadu and flowing through Mankombu and Vakakkadu and the stream originating in the Melukavu hills and flowing through Idamaruku. These two streams join together at Ettonnil Kadavu near Kalathukadavu and flows southward to enter the northern side of Erattupetta (meaning a confluence of two streams). At Erattupetta it joins south of Aruvithura the third tributary, Poonjar, which enters the southern side of Erattupetta. Aruvithura forane Church is a famous churche that situates on the left bank of Meenachil river at Erattupetta. 3. The third tributary, the Poonjar, originates from the southern valley of the Kurishumala hills and flows through Adivaram, Peringalam and Poonjar. It is joined by various streams flowing through Vengathanam, Chennadu, Maniamkulam, Kunnonni and Cholathadam.

4. The fourth tributary, the Chittar, flows through Chettuthodu, Kalaketty, Variyanikkadu, Chemmalamattom, Thidanadu and joins the Meenachil at Kondoor, 4 k.m downstream, west of Erattupetta.

In addition to these main tributaries, there are about 10 major streams and 20 minor streams joining the Meenachil at various places. Some of the important ones are:

1. The Aakkal thodu, which flows through Anjoottimangalam, Kalekkandam, Narianganam and Plassanal and joins the Meenachil at Panackappalam.

2. The Ponnozhukum thodu, which flows through Elikkulam, Mallikassery, Vilakkumadam, Edamattom regions and joins the Meenachil near the Shree Krishna Swamy temple, Bharananganam.

3. The Lalam thodu, which flows through Karoor, Mundupalam and the northern regions of Palai and joins the Meenachil at Palai, near to the old private bus station.

3. The Meenachil thodu, which flows through Chengalam, Urulikunnam, Njandupara, Paika, Poovarany, Meenachil regions and joins the Meenachil at Arunapuram, near St. Thomas College, Palai.

4. The Chakini thodu, which flows through Maridom, Cherpunkal regions and joins the Meenachil near the Cherpunkal Bridge.

5. The Pannagam thodu, which flows through Mattakkara, Arumanoor, Ayarkkunnam regions and joins the Meenachil near Punnathara, Kidangoor.

6. The Kattachira thodu, which flows through Kuravilangadu, Kadappoor regions and joins the Meenachil near Kattachira.

7. The river also flows through the Kidangoor near by the place of palai

Economic and Cultural Importance of Meenachil River

Meenachil river is the major river in kottayam district and lakhs of people and many major towns and cities like Erattupetta, Palai, Ettumannur and Kottayam depend on this river for drinking water and water for commercial activities. In earlier days when road transport was not developed much, kettuvalloms used to transport goods throgh meenachil up to two km.s above Erattupetta and take agricultural products like copra to Alleppy port. Thousands of farmers use water from the river for agriculture. It is the natural channel for the discharge of rain water into the sea from eastern hills of kottayam dist. In its banks have come up major cities and commercial centres which also are cradles of the culture of this area of Travancore. Meenachil river water enters the Vembanad lake before reaching the sea and has a major share in shaping the water bodies in and around Kottayam towards western coast and the backwaters. During monsoon the river can be full or flooding the nearby low lying areas on many occasions. People who live near the river and its tributaries indeed are deeply concerned about the decline of the river's water retention capacity due to loss of tree cover, top soil loss and excessive legal and illegal sand mining and also the serious water pollution issues due to gabage disposal to the river all though the banks of the river. There is now acute shortage of water in summer. The mighty RAIN-FED river turns almost completely dry bed in summer. Unless some serious, immediate effort is not taken, Meenachil river will soon become highly polluted affecting lakhs of people who depend on the river.

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