Project envisages flow of sea water through pipes into the canal

The ambitious and much-awaited project to clean the canals of Alappuzha by linking them to the Arabian Sea is finally showing signs of life.

The project, initial estimates of which were pegged at around Rs.8 crore, is the State Irrigation Department's creation, one that was re-designed with the hope that it would not meet the fate of a similar project that fell flat a few years back.

Receiving environmental clearance from the Centre for Earth and Science Studies (CESS), in November 2010, and issued technical and administration sanctions during the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government's tenure, the project now has had a Mumbai-based company submitting an Expression of Interest proposal recently.

Once the government approves of the firm, it will be given three months to prepare a detailed project report (DPR), after which tenders for work will be invited, R. Venugopal, Executive Engineer (Irrigation) told The Hindu on Monday.

The project envisages allowing flow of sea water through two one-metre diameter pipes during summer, which would help eco-restoration of the canals that are currently polluted heavily with aquatic weeds and garbage apart from erecting a 3.5 metre-wide platform about 150 metres into the sea, almost on the lines of the existing 150-year-old sea pier. The pipes will be placed 1.2m below sea level.

The two main canals here, the Commercial Canal and the Vada Canal and three cross canals connecting these two, form the network to carry salt water once the project gets operational. The Uppootti Canal will be connected to the sea to let the seawater into the Commercial Canal, which is the longest at 3,500 metres while the combined length of all the canals is 8,820 metres.

There will be a concrete chamber in the Uppootti Canal with shutters to control sea water inflow into the canal system. Water is expected to enter the canal by gravity flow and the system will be operated only during summer and will have provisions to prevent sand deposits inside the pipes.

The canals, which have been identified to have 17 types of aquatic weeds, are also connected to six paddy polders at the east end, covering an area of 961 acres. As per recommendations of CESS, synchronization of the opening and closure of the sea water inflow regulation valve with the crop calendar will be done so as to avoid damage to these paddy fields.

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