Rampant encroachment and unchecked pollution have sounded the death knell for the Edappally canal.
The 14.45-km-long canal — which originates near Muttar puzha and joins the Chitrapuzha — is among the 10 canals in the city affected by rapid urbanisation.
The other water channels include Mullassery canal, Thevara canal, Perandoor canal, Karanakkodam thodu, Koithara thodu, Poorni puzha, Changadampok thodu, Kharee thodu, and Puncha thodu.
V.N. Sivasankara Pillai, former director of the School of Environmental Studies at Cochin University of Science and Technology, who has done extensive research on canals in the city, said on Monday the width of Edappally thodu (also called thukalan kuthiya thodu) had reduced considerably. He attributed this to the construction of apartments, business establishments and houses near the canal over the past several years.
“The canal was the safest and shortest route for movement of goods along the Kodungalloor-Varapuzha- Muttar puzha-Tripunithura channel since the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin period. It was also a seasonal freshwater source,” he said.
Prof. Pillai said the canal now had little water holding capacity as a result of the pressure imposed by land development. “Moreover, untreated sewage is being dumped into the canal. Sew age from households also ends up here. Studies have found large-scale encroachment of puramboke land close to the canal,” he said.
A feasibility report on making a few city canals navigable found that encroachments were threatening to make the Edappally canal non-navigable. The report was prepared by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) at the behest of Infrastructure Kerala Limited (INKEL).
The report said, the canals were navigable till a couple of decades ago and had tremendous potential to reduce traffic congestion on city roads. However, they were being stifled by encroachments and low-lying bridges that had less than 4.5-metre-gap between its base and the water surface, the report said. Officials who drafted the project report admitted that no action was taken against encroachers, as they included leading real estate and business houses in the city.
Senior officials of the State Pollution Control Board said domestic sewage from Kochi city and its satellite towns ended up in the tidal canals including the Edappally thodu. They said effluents from commercial establishments in the city found their way into the canal network along with the sludge left in the canals by tidal effects.
Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany said the Town Planning wing of the local body would act tough against encroachers. “We have not come across any complaints regarding encroachments on Edappally canal,” he said.