The delay is blamed on hold-up in gaining permission from the Union environment ministry to work through thickly forested terrain.

Trial run on the 32-km-long main canal between Bhoothathankettu and Malayattoor began on Wednesday, 32 years after work on the Idamalayar irrigation project was launched.

The project was thought up to use water from the Idamalayar hydro-electric power generation facility using the Bhoothathankettu barrage and help irrigate more than 14,000 hectares of cultivable area.

An official of the department blamed the delay on extremely difficult terrain and the hold-up in gaining permission from the Union environment ministry to work through thickly forested and rocky terrain between Bhoothathankettu and Malayattoor.

The official said though the project work began in the 1980s, the permission to work through a stretch of 16 km of forested area came through only in 2006. This, the official, said was the key reason for the delay in wrapping up irrigation project works.

The canal was opened to water flow from the upper reaches of Bhoothathankettu on Wednesday, and it marks the beginning of commissioning of the project, which will benefit the border areas of the Ernakulam. Farm land in villages like Thuravoor and Malayattoor stands to gain from the project.

The Idamalayar irrigation project, costing around Rs. 371 crore, has three components. The first is the main canal, on which the trial run began on Wednesday. The second component is the Thumpurmuzhi cross bund raising on Chalakkudy river and the third is the Chalakkudy river right bank canal modification, stretching over 40 km.

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