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Page 79 5 Population and Land Use in Kerala P. S. George Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala S. Chattopadhyay Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala The state of Kerala, located in the southwestern corner of the Indian Peninsula, came into existence in 1956. It was formed by merging the three administrative units of Travancore in the south, Cochin in the central region, and the Malabar District in the north. Malayalam, a South Indian Dravidian language with Sanskrit influence, is the state language. Travancore and Cochin had a long history of progressive social policies followed by enlightened monarchs; the Malabar District was a part of the Madras Presidency under British rule. GEOGRAPHY, SOILS, AND CLIMATE Kerala has an area of 38,864 square kilometers, roughly the size of Switzerland. It lies between 8° 18' and 12° 48' north latitude and 74° 52' and 77° 22' east longitude. It is bounded on the east by a geological escarpment running roughly northwest to southeast parallel to the coast known as the Western Ghats, on the west by the Arabian Sea, on the south by the state of Tamil Nadu, and on the north by the state of Karnataka ( Figure 5-1). Located in the southwestern fringes of the Western Ghats, Kerala is characterized by an asymmetrical topography. Its landform is dominated by undulating, subdued hills and steep scarp slopes, and its altitude ranges from below mean sea level to 2,694 meters above mean sea level. Kerala's location and altitudinal variations have endowed the state with a wide range of agroecological conditions.
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Page 80 The state has three distinct elevation zones known as the lowland, midland, and highland regions ( Figure 5-2). The lowland region, ranging from nearly level to gently sloping, is a strip of land running along the coast bordering the Arabian Sea, and it occupies approximately 10 per- ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 5-1 Map of Kerala.
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Page 81 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 5-2 Three natural elevation zones, Kerala. SOURCE: Resource Atlas, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. cent of the total area. This region is characterized by marine landforms consisting of beach ridges and beaches with swamps and lagoons. The lowland region is well known for its backwaters with extensive rice fields and coconut plantations.
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Page 82 The midland region, with altitudes ranging from 7.5 to 75 meters above mean sea level, is made up primarily of valleys. Flat-bottomed valleys and gently to moderately sloping areas account for 42 percent of the landmass. The terrain is undulating, with numerous rivers, small hills, and valleys. A variety of seasonal, annual, and perennial crops are grown in its mainly lateritic soil. In the highland region, with its ranges of steep hills, altitudes range from 75 to 750 meters above mean sea level. This region constitutes about 43 percent of the state's landmass; it is covered with forests and drained by small streams. The soil varies widely in depth and texture. Plantation crops, including tea, coffee, rubber, and cardamom, are grown in the highlands. Kerala has distinct biophysical characteristics that vary across the state and contribute to its population and land use dynamics. Based on these characteristics, the state can be divided into six major zones—lowlands and coastal plains, Malabar midlands, Palghat region, southern midlands, foothills, and eastern highlands. For administrative purposes the state is divided into fourteen districts. Laterite and lateritic soils cover around 60 percent of the total geographical area. The beaches, subdued sand dunes, level lands with valleys, submerged lands, swamps, and marshes are characterized by coastal alluvium that is sandy to clayey loam in texture. They are moderately well drained, although some areas experience excessive drainage due to loose sandy deposits. The soils in river valleys are loamy in texture and are well drained. The hills and upland soils, composed of laterite and laterite-derived materials are deep, well-drained loams and clays with a fairly high gravel content. Kerala's climate may be characterized as tropical—that is, hot and humid. The mean monthly relative humidity varies between 85 percent and 95 percent from June through September; it is about 70 percent in January. The southwest monsoons bring rainfall in June through September and the northeast monsoons in October through November. The mean annual rainfall is approximately 2,900 millimeters, with a range of 651–5,883 millimeters. The mean annual number of rainy days is 126, with a range of 45–172 days. July is the rainiest month of the year. During the period 1956–1993, the mean annual temperature varied from 25.4°C to 31°C in the midland region. The diurnal variation fell within the range of 5°C–7°C because the state is situated between the sea and mountains. The temperature remained around 30°C during the summer months of April and May and decreased during July and August because of high rainfall during the southwest monsoons. The temperature was lower in the high mountain regions, falling below 15°C in the northeastern district of Idukki.
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Page 83 DEMOGRAPHY In 1991 the population of Kerala was about 29 million; between 1901 and 1991 the population had increased approximately fivefold. Over the 40 years between 1901 and 1941, the 1901 population of 6.4 million doubled; it then doubled again after only 30 years, between 1941 and 1971. The intercensal growth rate, which includes both natural increase and net migration, was high—2.31 percent—between 1961 and 1971; it then declined to 1.75 percent between 1971 and 1981 and to 1.32 percent between 1981 and 1991. The population density of Kerala increased from 165 persons per square kilometer in 1901 to 747 persons in 1991. The female population outnumbered the male population throughout the century; the number of females per thousand males increased from 1,004 in 1901 to 1,036 in 1991. The rate of natural increase was less than 2 percent before 1941 and after 1981 and greater than 2 percent during the three decades between 1941 and 1971. Until 1941 Kerala was characterized by a net influx of migrants, but later the situation was reversed, with more people migrating out of Kerala. The emigration rate was 0.22 percent between 1971 and 1981, when approximately 250,000 persons left Kerala for employment in the Middle East. This trend continued during the 1980s, with a net migration rate of 0.31 percent. Fertility and Mortality Rates The birth and fertility rates of Kerala have declined consistently over the last 40 years (see Table 5-1 for a summary of the state's birth, fertility, death, and infant mortality rates, as well as life expectancy). The crude birth rate (CBR) per thousand persons declined from 43.9 during 1951– TABLE 5-1 Demographic Indicators, Kerala, 1951–1993 (annual average per thousand persons) Period Crude Birth Rate Crude Fertility Rate Crude Death Rate Infant Mortality Rate Expectation of Life at Birth Male Female 1951–1961 43.9 5.6 19.7 128 46 50 1961–1971 37.1 5.0 12.2 66 1971–1981 28.1 3.4 8.6 62 65 1990 19.0 2.1 5.9 17 68 72 1993 16.6 1.7 13 69 74 SOURCES: All data except 1993 crude birth rate obtained from: Government of Kerala. Economic Review. Thiruvananthapuram: State Planning Board (various issues); 1993 crude birth rate obtained from Sample Registration System.
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Page 84 1961, to 28.1 during 1971–1981, to 16.6 in 1993 (an estimate obtained from the Sample Registration System). Kerala's fertility rate, especially marital fertility rate, was one of the highest in India in the 1950s and 1960s. More recently, however, a relatively high age at marriage and improvements in the education level and status of women have kept the total fertility rate (TFR) and birth rate under control (see Table 5-1). According to census estimates, the annual crude death rate per thousand persons declined from 19.7 during 1951–1961 to 8.6 during 1971–1981. (The rate for a 10-year period is the simple average of the annual rate for each of the 10 years.) The Sample Registration System has placed the crude death rate for the first half of the 1990s at around 6 per thousand. The infant mortality rate in Kerala has undergone a remarkable decline—from 128 per thousand live births for 1951–1961 to 13 in the early 1990s. Expectation of life at birth is an important indicator of the overall health of the population. Kerala has seen significant improvements in the life expectancy of both males and females. Male life expectancy increased from 46 years during 1951–1961 to 68 years in 1990. Over the same interval, female life expectancy increased from 50 years to 75 years. Urban Growth The 1991 census found the urban population of Kerala to be 7.7 million, or more than one-fourth of the state's population ( Table 5-2). In 1901 urban dwellers accounted for only 7 percent of the population. Urban growth exceeded 5 percent in the decades 1941–1951 and 1981–1991. The number of towns increased over four times between 1901 and 1951 and more than doubled again by 1991. TABLE 5-2 Indicators of Urbanization, Kerala, 1901–1991 Year Share of Urban Population (percent) Urban Growth Rate (percent) Urban–Rural Growth Difference Number of Towns 1901 7.1 21 1911 7.3 1.54 0.4 27 1921 8.7 2.98 2.2 44 1931 9.6 3.46 1.4 53 1941 10.8 3.05 1.6 62 1951 13.5 5.27 3.4 94 1961 15.1 3.99 1.8 92 1971 16.2 3.57 1.1 88 1981 18.8 3.75 2.2 106 1991 26.4 6.09 2.2 197 SOURCE: Government of Kerala. Economic Review. Thiruvananthapuram: State Planning Board (various issues).
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Page 85 Migration Kerala has a reputation for providing migrants to regions both inside and outside the country. The pace of migration accelerated over the last decade primarily for two reasons. First, the educated unemployed are moving out of the state in search of employment opportunities. Second, farmers are moving from land-scarce regions to regions that offer greater potential for cultivation. Because the rise in job expectations resulting from increased education levels has not corresponded to an increase in employment opportunities within the state, Kerala suffers from very high unemployment. Indeed, approximately 10 percent of the India's total unemployed population is from Kerala. Unemployment, then, has led to large-scale migration both within and outside the country. Over half the migration from Kerala is to foreign countries. Based on a 1992–1993 survey, the state Department of Economics and Statistics estimated that of the almost 1.2 million migrants from Kerala, some 56 percent migrated to the Middle East and other foreign countries and 44 percent to other parts of India (Government of Kerala, 1997). SOCIAL STRUCTURE Over the twentieth century Kerala maintained a literacy level well above the national average. By 1991 it had achieved the highest literacy rate in India—89.8 percent ( Table 5-3). The 1991 female literacy rate of 86.2 percent was more than double the national average of 39.3 percent. The total state expenditure on education in 1996–1997 was Rs. 18 billion, of which 49 percent was spent on primary education, 30 percent on secondary education, and 21 percent on university and technical education. The religious composition of Kerala is more balanced than that of the nation as a whole. According to the 1991 census, Hindus made up 57 percent of the population, Muslims 23 percent, and Christians 19 percent ( Table 5-4). Apparently, there has been a differential growth rate of popu- TABLE 5-3 Literacy Rates, Kerala and India, 1901-1991 (percent) Kerala India Year Male Female Total Male Female Total 1901 19.2 3.2 11.1 9.8 0.6 5.4 1951 49.8 31.4 40.5 25.0 7.9 16.7 1961 55.0 38.9 56.8 34.4 12.9 24.0 1971 66.6 54.3 60.4 39.5 18.7 29.5 1981 87.7 75.7 70.4 46.6 24.7 36.0 1991 93.6 86.2 89.8 64.1 39.3 52.2 SOURCE: Census of India and Kerala (various years).
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Page 86 TABLE 5-4 Major Religions, Kerala, 1981 and 1991 (percent) 1981 1991 Hindu 58.2 57.3 Muslim 21.2 23.3 Christian 20.6 19.3 SOURCE: Census of Kerala, 1981 and 1991. lation among religious groups. Between 1981 and 1991 the shares of Hindus and Christians in the total population declined slightly, while that of Muslims increased. Kerala's notable accomplishments in the health standards of its population are reflected in the state's low infant mortality rate, low maternal mortality rate, and high life expectancy. Contributing factors are an extensive network of health infrastructure, high female education levels, and general health consciousness and awareness. During 1996–1997 the immunization coverage for pregnant women was 87 percent; for infants it was 100 percent coverage against typhoid, tetanus, polio, and tuberculosis and 99 percent coverage against measles. Both state and private medical institutions provide allopathic, ayurvedic, and homeopathic care. Between 1997 and 1998 the total state expenditure on medical and public health was Rs. 5.6 billion, indicating an annual per capita state expenditure of Rs. 175. About 45 percent of the rural population and 70 percent of the urban population have access to protected water supplies. ECONOMIC STRUCTURE State income for 1996–1997 was estimated at Rs. 74 billion at constant prices (1980–1981 price level) and Rs. 285 billion at current prices. Between 1980 and 1997 the state income at constant prices indicated an annual growth rate of 5.8 percent and at current prices a growth rate of 10.4 percent. During this period, per capita income grew at an annual rate of 4.4 percent at constant prices and 8.9 percent at current prices. Also during this period there was a marked decline in the contribution of the primary sector to the net domestic product and a marked increase in the contribution of the tertiary sector. Of the total number of working factories registered in Kerala in 1996, 3 percent were in the public sector and 96.8 percent were in the private sector. Of the total number of workers employed in the factories, 26.7 percent were employed in the public sector and 73.2 percent were employed in the private sector. Kerala has a strong traditional industries sector. The manufacture of matting and rope from coir, a type of coconut
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Page 87fiber, is the major traditional industry, providing employment for about 390,000 workers. The handloom industry employs another 200,000 workers. Cashew processing is a major seasonal industry. In the absence of direct estimates, indicators such as the percentage of population living below the poverty line, the distribution of households according to expenditure and class, and distribution of landholdings are used as variables for estimates of income distribution. According to Key Indicators of Rural Development, published in 1996 by the government of Kerala, the proportion of population living below the poverty line in Kerala declined from 46 percent in 1977, to 26.1 percent in 1984, to 16.4 percent in 1988. CHANGES IN LAND USE In view of the wide variation in physical settings and development patterns in Kerala, aggregate data at the state level do not capture the dynamic processes involved in the state's land use transformation. More useful are in-depth field studies from different ecological settings and the available field-level studies on migration and land use changes in different parts of the state. From these studies emerges a scenario depicting the conversion of rice land to other uses, deforestation, migration, and urban expansion. Kerala has witnessed major changes in its land use pattern. The most important are the shrinking area devoted to cultivating food crops and an increase in the rate of deforestation. The land area used for rice cultivation declined from 876,000 hectares in 1975 to 431,000 hectares in 1996, with the result that local rice production barely meets one-third of the total consumption requirements of the state. Although no official estimate of deforestation in Kerala is available, it is widely known that in certain regions large-scale conversion of forest area has occurred, contributing to concerns about sustainable land use. The official claim that the forested area of Kerala did not change between 1960–1961 and 1995–1996 may not reflect actual conditions. In the absence of recurrent surveys of the area classified as forest, the official estimates continue to indicate no change in area. However, topographical maps available since 1900 and LANDSAT images (1973 and 1983) indicate a substantial decline in forest vegetation cover over time (Chattopadhyay, 1985). The 1905 estimate of 44.4 percent area under forest vegetation had declined to 27.7 percent by 1965, to 17.1 percent by 1973, and to 14.7 percent by 1983. Field-level observations also indicate the conversion of forestland to cropland, a development arising from government policies that encouraged agricultural production and migration from coastal to upland regions.
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Page 88 Shifts in Cropping Patterns When the state of Kerala was formed in 1956, the total cropped area was over 2 million hectares. Rice was the dominant crop, accounting for about 35 percent of the cropped area, followed by coconut, accounting for 21 percent ( Table 5-5). In 1996, when the total cropped area was just over 3 million hectares, coconut was the primary crop, followed by rubber and then rice. Between 1957 and 1997 the area of rice cultivation declined by 44 percent, while the areas planted with coconut and rubber increased by 117 percent and 450 percent, respectively, both surpassing rice in hectares. The cultivation of tapioca also declined—from 10 percent of the total cropped area in 1957 to less that 5 percent in 1996. The year 1975 is considered a major turning point in cropping patterns; the area used for rice cultivation reached its peak that year ( Figure 5-3). After 1975 there was a clear shift away from food crops, mainly rice and tapioca, in favor of tree crops such as rubber and coconut and some of the export-oriented crops such as pepper, ginger, and coffee. As a result, coconut, pepper, coffee, rubber, cashews, and fruits increased in area, while cereals, sugarcane, and tea declined in area. These shifts have significant implications for the food security of the state, which already depends on outside supplies to meet more than half the its food requirements. Rice lands are converted into coconut gardens by one of two ways. TABLE 5-5 Changes in Cropping Patterns between 1957 and 1996, Kerala Area (thousand hectares) Percent Change 1957 1975 1996 1957–1975 1975–1996 Total cropped area 2,211 2,933 3,067 32.6 4.6 Rice 767 876 431 14.2 −50.8 Other cereals and pulses 28 45 29 −22.4 −35.5 Sugarcane 9 8 6 −11.1 −25.0 Pepper 91 108 173 18.7 60.2 Areca nut 50 77 73 54.0 −5.2 Cashew 44 109 100 147.7 −8.3 Cardamom 28 54 43 92.9 −20.4 Ginger 9 12 14 33.5 16.7 Banana and plantain 42 52 72 23.8 38.5 Tapioca 214 327 142 52.8 −56.6 Coconut 463 693 1,005 49.7 45.0 Tea 40 38 37 −5.0 −2.4 Coffee 17 42 82 147.0 95.2 Rubber 100 207 450 107.0 117.4 SOURCE: Government of Kerala. Economic Review. Thiruvananthapuram: State Planning Board (various issues).
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Page 89 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 5-3 Rice area, production, and yield, Kerala, 1970–1995. SOURCE: Government of Kerala. Economic Review. Thiruvananthapuram: State Planning Council (various issues). The first method involves planting coconut saplings on the bunds (embankments) of the rice fields. Then, gradually, farmers widen the bunds and plant additional rows of coconut saplings until the entire field is converted into a raised coconut garden. In the second method, farmers create mounds within the paddy fields at regular intervals and plant them with coconut saplings. As these plants reach a certain stage in their growth, more mounds are created until the whole plot is converted into a coconut garden. Both methods are irreversible. As noted, Kerala has experienced a drastic decline in the area used to cultivate rice, from approximately 29 percent of total cropped area in 1974 to 15 percent in 1997. In turn, the contribution of the rice crop to the state's income fell from 19 percent in 1984 to 10 percent in 1995. This downward trend was quite steady over these years. Because yield increases during this period did not match the decrease in area, total production also declined. The impact of this downward trend on food security, employment opportunities, and ecology has raised serious concerns. The conversion of land used for rice cultivation to seasonal and perennial crops reflects a shift in cropping pattern, whereas the conversion of rice land to nonagricultural uses indicates changes brought about by population pressures and infrastructure development. When rice land was converted to nonagricultural uses, 44 percent was used for buildings
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Page 96 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 5-4 Population growth, Idukki District, 1971–1991. Kerala has witnessed large-scale deforestation during this century. According to Narayanan (1996), four major state initiatives favored deforestation. The first one occurred toward the end of the nineteenth century when a Royal Proclamation aimed at encouraging the establishment of plantations guaranteed settlers the tax-free use of government forestland for 10 years and imposed only light taxation thereafter. Although the benefits were initially realized by large capitalists, small farmers were later also attracted to the forestland. Second, the “Grow More Food” campaign of the mid-1940s opened up forestland for the cultivation of food crops. Third, a colonization program of the state government prior to the reorganization of the states opened up new settlements in deforested areas. And, fourth, major investments in power generation and irrigation projects in the postindependence era entailed deforestation to make way for reservoirs and infrastructure such as roads.
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Page 97 Although the official estimates of forest area do not reflect this decline because of the reporting system used, studies based on satellite imagery have revealed a substantial decline in forest area. According to one estimate by the Center for Earth Science Studies, the area under forest in Kerala, expressed as a percentage of the total geographic area, declined from 36 percent to 12 percent between 1965 and 1990. Apparently, up until 1960 migrants to Idukki acquired land through deforestation. But over time the share of deforested land in the total land acquired declined, and from 1980 on land was acquired mainly through purchases from earlier settlers ( Table 5-11). Over the same period, the decline of forestland in the Wyanad and Idukki Districts, with the greatest concentration of migrants, was about 40 percent. In a study of several villages in the Idukki District, Jeena (1997) observes that the changes in land use pattern between 1940 and 1990 occurred in two stages. In the first stage deforestation resulted from the expansion of cultivated area to forestland, fueled by government policies set in place in the 1940s. The second stage corresponded to the introduction of rubber cultivation to the area in the 1960s, based on its high profitability and adequate incentives for commercial plantation crops. Old Survey of India maps, LANDSAT images from 1973, and IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) images from 1992 reveal a progressive decline in natural vegetation cover in the Idukki District from 88 percent in 1905 to 20 percent in 1992. The area devoted to agricultural plantations and settlements has increased from 16 percent (based on a survey carried out from 1913 to 1928) to 43 percent (based on an analysis of satellite images from 1992)—see Table 5-12. (Because of the dispersed nature of settlements, it is not possible to distinguish settled areas from agricultural plantations in the satellite data.) Increases in the area classified as water bodies stem from the impoundment of the Idukki and Idamalayar reservoirs. The Idukki reservoir generates most of the hydroelectric power produced in Kerala. TABLE 5-11 Nature of Acquisition of Land by Settlers in Idukki Villages Percent of Land Acquired by Years of Migration Deforestation Purchase Before 1950 100.0 0 1950–1960 100.0 0 1960–1970 36.4 63.4 1970–1980 19.1 80.9 After 1980 0 100.0 SOURCES: Sample survey results reported in Jeena, T. S. 1997. Internal Rural Migration and the Impact of Deforestation on Cropping Patterns in Kerala. M.Phil. thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
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Page 98 TABLE 5-12 Temporal Variation in Land Use in Idukki District (percent) Land Use Category Period I, 1913–1928 Period II, 1954–1970 Period III, 1992 Change between I and II Change between I and III Change between II and III Forest, including degraded forest and forest plantations 82.10 65.00 54.00 −17.10 −28.10 −11.00 Agricultural plantations and settlements 16.30 33.40 43.38 +17.10 +27.08 +9.98 Water bodies 1.60 1.60 2.62 0 +1.02 +1.02 NOTE: Period I corresponds to the survey carried out during 1913–1928, period II during 1954–1970, and period III in 1992. SOURCE: Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS). 1997. Analysis of the Environmental Impact of the Lowland to Highland Migration in the Western Ghat Region: Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram. Deforestation is associated with several undesirable conditions. In the highlands of Kerala with its rugged topography and heavy rainfall, forests reduce the peak flow and prolong the duration of flow, thereby reducing surface runoff. Deforestation causes rapid runoff from catchment areas, as well as frequent flash floods in downstream areas. When annual crops such as cassava are grown on the deforested land, soil erosion occurs on slopes, which in turn increases the silt carried by rivers and reduces the storage capacity of reservoirs. Erosion of the topsoil also leads to reduced soil quality and low productivity over time. Some of the land-slides in the Idukki District during recent years are thought to be the result of deforestation and the changing cropping patterns. Urbanization In Kerala the trend toward urbanization differs from that in the rest of India in several aspects. The state is dominated by small, well-distributed urban centers rather than one large megacity. Moreover, Kerala displays a unique rural–urban continuum. Traditionally, dispersed linear settlements developed along the ridges and upper slopes and the intervening valleys between ridges were used for seasonal agriculture or primary sector activities. The valleys also served as water cushions during monsoons. In 1981 Kerala had an urban population of only 19 percent, compared with a national average of 23 percent. Ten years later the urban population of Kerala accounted for 26 percent of the total population, compared
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Page 99with a national average of 25 percent. The area under urban administration in 1991 accounted for 8.65 percent of the geographical area, compared with 2.66 percent in 1961 (CESS, 1997). District-wise, with the exception of the Ernakulam and Kannur Districts, the spatial expansion of urbanization is either stagnant or slow. In 1961 Alappuzha (Alleppey) District ranked first among all the districts in urbanization—7.79 percent of its total area was classified as urban. The situation remained unchanged up to 1981, and an additional 12.54 percent of the total district area came under urban administration in 1991. The town of Alleppey has been an important port in recent history and has played a significant role in the local economy. The impacts of urbanization on land use are felt widely. On the one hand, the spatial expansion of urban centers brings more rural area under urban administration. On the other hand, land use within the urban centers undergoes various changes. An analysis of the land use dynamics of the city of Thiruvananthapuram illustrates these changes. The analysis was carried out using the land use and land type data extracted from Survey of India topographical maps and IRS images with a scale of 1:50,000. Spatial analysis of the data was carried out using a geographic information system (GIS). Thiruvananthapuram, formerly known as Trivandrum, covers an area of 326 square kilometers. The capital of modern Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram also was the capital of the historic state of Travancore. By the turn of the nineteenth century, it had a population of 57,882, which had grown to 524,006 in 1991. The original settlements were in low-lying sandy areas. In Thiruvananthapuram land use changes over the years were instrumental in changing the landscape ecology, which had far-reaching consequences for the environment. The more major land use changes were in residential areas, where, given the preference of the local populace to live in single-family housing, significantly more land was required to house the population than in other parts of the country. A comparison of the land use data for Thiruvananthapuram for 1961 and 1976 reveals that the areas classified as wetland, rice fields, and parks and open spaces declined cumulatively from 36.5 percent in 1961 to 17.45 percent in 1976 ( Table 5-13). A more recent survey by Chattopadhyay and Jayaprasad (1991) revealed that wetland made up only 5 percent of the region. This decline continues despite restrictions imposed by the government against conversion of wetland, which have been earmarked as the “Green Belt.” In urban areas generally, the urban influence is spreading to surrounding rural areas, and the rural–urban distinction is diminishing at a fast pace. In the Thiruvananthapuram City Region, for example, rice fields accounted for 11 percent of the total area in 1966 ( Figure 5-5) but only 6 percent in 1991 according to satellite image data. The spatial distribution
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Page 100 TABLE 5-13 Land Use Change, Thiruvananthapuram City Corporation, 1961 and 1976 (percent) Land Use Category 1961 1976 Change Residential 46.00 59.00 +13.04 Wetland/rice fields 24.00 9.60 −14.40 Park and open space 12.50 7.85 −4.65 Public and semigovernment land 5.30 8.86 +3.56 Roads and streets 4.50 7.33 +2.83 Other (industrial, etc.) 7.70 7.32 −0.42 SOURCE: Chattopadhyay, S. 1985. Deforestation in parts of Western Ghats region (Kerala), India. International Journal of Environmental Management 20:219–230. indicates that conversion of rice land to urban uses is greatest within and near the city. In the coastal plain, however, the decline is less, primarily because wetland in the region has been acquired by the government and is therefore protected—at least temporarily. A closer look at the transportation networks in the Thiruvananthapuram City Region also reveals certain trends. Roads and highways were originally developed along the ridges, and today the main routes are following this pattern, developing along the ridges, whereas branch routes cut across or run along the valleys. The National Highway (NH 47) passes through the area, cutting across the city for a length of 32 kilometers. The rice fields located near the national highways, state highways, and minor roads are more prone to conversion than ones in outlying areas. The satellite images clearly show that land use within the urban area and the adjoining rural areas are undergoing significant changes. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES Kerala is well known for having a cleaner environment than the other states of India. Environmental pollution is an emerging problem, however. This section focuses on the growing problem of water pollution and, more generally, the policy measures that have been implemented at the national level to deal with environmental protection. Water Pollution Kerala's major industries are dumping an estimated 500,000 cubic meters of effluents containing a variety of pollutants into the rivers of Kerala every day. Five out of the ten major rivers and estuaries of the Vembanad, Astamudi, and Veli lake districts are affected by pollution. Although no detailed study has been carried out for the entire state, site-specific analyses, especially of water quality, have been conducted over
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Page 101 ~ enlarge ~ FIGURE 5-5 Land use, Thiruvananthapuram City Region, 1966–1967 and 1991. the past few years. These studies indicate that the pollution problem is closely associated with land use practices. The Centre for Earth Science Studies, under the aegis of the national Department of Ocean Development, regularly monitors coastal waters at various locations. Its research has found high concentrations of dissolved and particulate cadmium and mercury in water samples collected from
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Page 102the coastal waters at Kochi (formerly Cochin) and Veli (Pillai et al., 1994). Dissolved oxygen levels and biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels also indicate environmental degradation. 4 Pollution in the Vembanad estuary is attributed to industrial and urban effluents from the city of Kochi and adjoining areas. As a major port and industrial center, this region is subject to heavy anthropogenic pressure. An estimated 3.5 billion liters of domestic sewage is produced daily in the urban areas of Cochin. Approximately 90 percent of this sewage is untreated and discharged into surrounding bodies of water (Kumaran, 1994). High concentrations of phosphates, nitrates, and ammonia are causing eutrophication of the Vembanad lakes. Water bodies in and around Thiruvananthapuram also are affected by urban and industrial discharges. Backwaters and rural estuaries in Kerala experience varying degrees of pollution. Apart from urbanization and industrialization in the low-lands and coastal plains, the common practice of coconut retting contributes to the degradation of ambient water quality. Coconut retting is the process through which coconut husk is immersed in brackish water before fiber is extracted from the husk. Hydrogeochemical analysis of selected rivers in rural areas also indicates the presence of fecal coliform bacteria. Finally, because Kerala's freshwater environment is optimal for growing rice, rice is cropped three times annually, requiring heavy use of fertilizers. The residual nitrates have contributed to water quality problems. Pollution attributed to fertilizer and pesticide residues is reported in the Alappuzha-Kottayam area, and the algal blooms observed in rice fields are possibly associated with an increase in nitrate levels (Mary Kutty, 1996). Moreover, there is evidence that postharvest soils carry residual nitrates and phosphorus. Given Kerala's achievement in various sectors, the contamination of water in both rural and urban areas is a matter of serious concern. Policies and Regulations Protection of the environment is part of the Indian cultural heritage. Some species of plants are worshiped, as evidenced by the sacred groves found throughout India which are considered divine property and are protected by fencing. Reinforcing these traditional practices, Articles 48 A and 51 A (g) of the constitution of India decree that the “state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment, and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the country,” as well as “to protect and improve the 4Biological oxygen demand (BOD) is a measure of water quality. An increasing BOD corresponds to deteriorating quality.
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Page 103 natural environment, including forests, lakes and rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for the living creatures.” To combat the enormous damage already inflicted on the environment, the national government has implemented various regulations, including the following (Government of India, 1992): Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, amended in 1983, 1986, and 1991; Water (Prevention and Pollution Control) Act, 1974, amended in 1988; Water (Prevention and Pollution Control) Cess Act, 1977, amended in 1991; Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, amended in 1988; Air (Prevention and Pollution Control) Act, 1981, amended in 1988; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Motor Vehicle Act, 1938, amended in 1988; Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991; and A Notification on Coastal Regulation Zone, 1991. The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 seeks to prevent diversion of forestland to any other purpose. The act was amended in 1988 to ensure ecological balance in soil, water, and biomass management while meeting the requirements of the rural and tribal populations, increasing productivity, ensuring efficient use of forest products, and limiting the involvement of the population. In addition to enforcing these regulations, Kerala has enacted certain rules for land use practices. For example, the direct conversion of paddy fields to settlements is not permitted, and the construction of settlements in wetland areas (green belts) is prohibited. CONCLUSION Conversion of rice land, migration, deforestation, and urban expansion are the major land use/population issues in Kerala. On its agricultural lands, Kerala has witnessed major changes in cropping patterns, especially a substantial decline in the area used for rice and cassava cultivation and an increase in coconut and rubber cultivation. State policies on taxation, coupled with lax enforcement of regulations prohibiting the conversion of rice land to other purposes, have accelerated the process of rice land conversion. In addition, incentives for expansion and the high profitability of rubber production have contributed toward expanded cultivation of rubber. The conversion of rice land to other uses has increased Kerala's dependence on other states to meet its rice requirements. Rice is a labor-intensive crop, and a decline in the area devoted to its cultivation has adverse impacts on employment opportunities, income distribution, and
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Page 104food consumption. Because rice straw is the main source of roughage for feeding cattle, a reduction in rice cultivation also leads to reduced availability of cattle feed. Population pressures, unemployment, and state policies in Kerala have encouraged large-scale internal migration, which has resulted in rapid deforestation of the regions to which people moved. The consequences of deforestation include frequent flash floods and landslides, soil erosion, and silting of reservoirs, all capable of causing serious ecological and environmental problems. Population growth also has led to the conversion of rice land to, among other things, clay mining for brick making. Clay mining contributes to a decline in the groundwater recharging capacity and in the water-retention capacity of the soil. Urbanization in Kerala differs from that in the rest of India, because the state is dominated by small, well-distributed urban centers rather than a large megacity. Moreover, Kerala displays a unique rural–urban continuum. The local populace prefers to live in single-family housing, and thus significantly more land is required to house the population than in other parts of the country. Lack of employment opportunities for a large number of educated hopefuls and the shortage of arable land have provided strong incentives for interregional, interstate, and international migration. Thus the state economy has become somewhat dependent on remittances. The use of remittances for nonproductive activities, especially acquisition of consumer items manufactured outside the state, has earned Kerala a reputation as a consumer state. In the absence of major investments in productive sectors, it is likely that the state will remain a net consumer in the future. REFERENCES Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS). 1997 . Analysis of the Environmental Impact of the Lowland to Highland Migration in the Western Ghat Region: Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram . Chattopadhyay, S. 1985 . Deforestation in parts of Western Ghats region (Kerala), India. International Journal of Environmental Management 20: 219–230 . Chattopadhyay S., and B. K. Jayaprasad. 1991 . Evaluation of paddy field in Thiruvananthapuram City. Report submitted to the Trivandrum Development Authority, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram . George, P. S. 1982 . Agricultural price movements in Kerala. In: Agricultural Development in Kerala, P. P. Pillai, ed. New Delhi : Agricole Publishing Academy . Gopinathan, C., and C. S. Sundaresan. 1990 . Cropping Pattern Changes and Employment Effects in Selected Districts of Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram : Centre for Management Development . Government of India. 1992 . National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development. New Delhi : Ministry of Environment and Forest . Government of Kerala. 1996 . Key Indicators of Rural Department. Thiruvananthapuram : Department of Rural Development .
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Page 105 Government of Kerala. 1997 . Economic Review. Thiruvananthapuram : State Planning Board . Government of Travancore. 1940 . Travancore Land Revenue Manual. Thiruvananthapuram . Jeena, T. S. 1997 . Internal Rural Migration and the Impact of Deforestation on Cropping Patterns in Kerala. M.Phil. thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi . Joseph, K. V. 1998 . Migration and land use: A case study of migration from Travancore to Malabar. Background paper no. 4, Population and Land Use Study, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram . Kannan, K. P., and P. Pushpangadan. 1988 . Agricultural stagnation in Kerala: An exploratory analysis. Economic and Political Weekly 23(39): A120–A128 . Kumaran, P. 1994 : Urban pollution in Kerala with specific reference to Kochi. International Congress on Kerala Studies 5 (abstracts): 175, 176 . Mary Kutty, A., C. M. Joy, and T. Joseph. 1996 . Potential effect of fertiliser residues on algae of Kuttanad. Pp. 59–60 in Proceedings of the Eighth Kerala Science Congress. Thiruvananthapuram . Narayanan, N. C. 1994 . Issues in Sustainable Land Use. M.Phil. thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi . Narayanan, N. C. 1996 . Land use intervention in the highland tracts of Kerala and sustainable livelihoods: A case study of Adivaram. Photocopy. Panikar, P. G. K. 1980 . Recent trends in area under production of rice in Kerala. Working Paper 116. Centre for Development Studies , Thiruvananthapuram . Panikar, P. G. K., et al. 1978 . Population growth and agricultural development: A case study of Kerala. Paper prepared for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), New York . Pillai, R., V. Rema Devi, V. Saravanan, and P. P. Ouseph. 1994 . Distribution of heavy metals and nutrients in the nearshore sediments and waters along the southwest coast of India. Pp. 91–93 in Proceedings of the Sixth Kerala Science Congress. Thriuvananathapuram . Resmi, P. B. 1996 . Environment and Sustainable Development: The Case of Brick Industry in Kerala. M.Phil. thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi . Sivanandan, P. K. 1985 . Kerala's Agricultural Performance: Differential Trends and Determinants of Growth. M.Phil. thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi . Uma Devi, S. 1984 . Impact of Plantations on Kerala's Economy with Special Reference to Rubber: Some Historical and Quantitative Aspects. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Kerala , Thriuvananathapuram . Unni, J. 1983 . Changes in cropping pattern in Kerala: Some evidence on substitution of coconut for rice. Economic and Political Weekly 18(39): A100–A107 .
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Representative terms from entire chapter: