Most parts of West Kochi have slipped into severe water shortage.
The recently installed Karanakkodam interconnection on a supply trunk route failing to deliver more water as promised and high mud content in the Periyar affecting output at Aluva water treatment plant have snafued supply to the region.
Residents in Edakochi, Palluruthy, Konam, Perumpadappu, Fort Kochi and Mattancherry have been facing severe to moderate water shortage over the last fortnight. But people in Ittithara Colony, Kannangattu, Dempsy Road and south of VAT Junction in Edakochi North division of the Corporation of Cochin are the worst-hit.
“It is as if we are in the months of February and March when water shortage is critical in these parts of the city,” said member of the Kochi Corporation Council from Konam K.B. Shymol on Tuesday.
The residents have a series of protests up their sleeves. People in Edakochi, the worst–hit, have formed an action committee and will block National Highway 47 on Thursday morning.
“This is the first phase of our protest action,” said Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal, convenor of the action committee. K.R. Premkumar, former Corporation Council member from Konam, said he and like-minded people planned to move court to extract a solution.
Mr. Kalappurakkal also alleged that Kerala Water Authority officials, under instructions from ministers and MLAs, were diverting water meant for West Kochi areas to Thevara, Panampilly Nagar, Thrikkakara and Tripunithura.
Karmily Antony, member of the Corporation Council from Edakochi North, however, claimed that water shortage was not so severe though the households in her ward were not getting sufficient water. She is not fully convinced of the legitimacy of blocking the National Highway. Mr. Premkumar too did not agree with the plans to block the highway, calling it a political gimmick as even the previous government was unable to solve the problem of drinking water shortage in the West Kochi area.
Councillor from Fort Kochi Antony Kureethara said areas near Santa Cruz Basilica, Pattalam and Chirattappalam were in the grips of serious water shortage as pumping from the Karuvelippadi station of the Water Authority was only for about 15 minutes. Only if the pumping continues for at least three hours can the water needs of the 4,000 households in the ward be met.
Member of the Council from South Edakochi P. D. Suresh said the issue of water shortage in the area had been taken up with Minister for Ports and Excise K. Babu, under whose constituency the Edakochi area falls. He claimed that water supply to the area had improved at least 30 per cent over the last two days and he expects the problem to be solved soon.
The core of the problem of the current spell of water shortage appears to be the failure of the Karnakodam interconnection on one of the three water supply trunk lines.
The interconnection was opened to provide up to 10 million litres of water a day to the area. However, residents and corporation councillors allege that sufficient water reached West Kochi only for a few days after the inauguration of the interconnection, which happened just before the onset of the rains.
People did not realise that there was not enough water in the pipelines because they were tapping rain water during the wet months, said K. J. Basil, former councillor from Edakochi North. He claimed that West Kochi was back to the old days when it received only six million litres of water a day.
The interconnection was set up on the 48-inch mainline to provide 10 mld of water but West Kochi’s quota was reduced to eight mld as complaints from mainland Ernakulam mounted. The share of West Kochi shrunk to about seven mld because pumping from the Periyar too had been curtailed, said sources in the Water Authority.
The flooding of the Periyar in June and July affected the output from the water treatment plant in Aluva, said T. G. Rajasekharan, superintending engineer.
The Aluva plant, with an installed capacity of 225 mld, has been overload, pumping out up to 260 mld. High turbidity of 80 to 100 ntu (the measure of suspended solid matter in water) had made it difficult to filter and provide the required quantity. Though the turbidity has come down to 25 ntu now, the maximum turbidity for optimum output from the treatment plant is five ntu.
The three main pipelines that bring water into Kochi have two major pumping stations, one at Thammanam and the other at Perumanoor. The Thammanam pump house caters to the mainland city, Maradu, Kumbalam, Kumbalanghi and Chellanam. The Perumanoor pump house supplies water to Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Thoppumpady and Kannamali.
The third trunk line feeds smaller lines without a booster. Before reaching Thammanam, the 42-inch pipeline feeds smaller pump houses at Kalamassery and Thoppil.