Canals dry up, mangroves perish and waterlogging on the rise
Indiscriminate reclamation of stretches of Kochi backwaters and clogging of culverts are changing the ecology of Mulavukad island.
Culverts that were constructed to ensure tidal flow of water into the canals in the island has either been blocked or clogged with concrete and other construction materials. Moreover, the island has been cut off from the Kochi backwaters as the strip of water body between the island and the international transshipment container terminal road had been reclaimed.
“This has led to the drying up of canals in the island. Large stretches of mangroves on the island have also perished. This will also have an impact on the fishery resources and livelihood options of local fishermen,” said A. Ramachandran, a member of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority.
Mr. Ramachandran was part of a three-member sub-committee appointed by the authority to look into complaints of illegal reclamation of parts of Kochi backwaters.
A.K. Dinakaran, president of the Mulavukad panchayat, said the clogging of channels connecting the island with the backwaters had led to heavy water logging in the area during the rains. The island has almost been cut off from the backwater system along the National Highway stretch as the culverts and drains have been clogged. The impact of tidal action on the drains and canals in the region had also been drastically reduced, he said.
Water enters the island when it rains during the high tide. As all the outlets for water have either been clogged or narrowed, the island gets inundated, affecting the families residing there. Now, there is no significant link between the island and the water body on the side of the container terminal road. The drains on the island were recently levelled, which worsened the situation, he said.
The culverts have been clogged by the concrete and other construction materials. No steps have been taken for de-clogging the culverts though the issue was taken up with the authorities. The panchayat had unsuccessfully complained to the Ernakulam District Collector and the Goshree Island Development Authority, Mr. Dinakaran said.
Meanwhile, the sub-committee of the authority has decided to ask for the reclamation permission issued for the container terminal road. A visit to the site revealed that large tracts of land had been developed after reclaiming the water body, said Mr. Ramachandran. Though the authority had earlier directed the District Collector to demolish the compound walls constructed on the filter ponds in the region, it has not been implemented. The authority had earlier directed the Revenue officials to demolish the compound walls and restore the area to its original condition following complaints of encroachment and illegal reclamations, he said.