Seawater to be pumped in to flush out waste and control weed growth

The famous canals that have earned Alappuzha the sobriquet Venice of the East, now heavily polluted with aquatic weeds and garbage, will soon get a natural cleaning mechanism under an eco-restoration plan. A length of 20 km of the canals will be linked to the sea to flush out the waste and weeds.

The State government has accorded administrative sanction for the Rs.11.4-crore work.

The proposal — “Regulation of free flow of saline water from Arabian sea and flood control in canal system in Alappuzha” — was put forward by the Water Resources Department, official sources told The Hindu here.

The seawater will be let in through two pipes each of one-metre diameter for 14 days a cycle.

The saline water will be pumped into the Commercial Canal, the Vadai Canal and three cross canals.

The Uppootti Canal will be connected to the sea to let the seawater into the Commercial Canal.

To control the flow of seawater, shutters will be installed at the Commercial Canal and on the court side of the Vadai Canal.

A top official of the department says letting saline water remain in the canals will help keep them clean and check the growth of water hyacinth and other weeds. It will be a reverse system to enable draining of accumulated waste in the canals to the sea.

The canals were cleaned up by the department eight years ago.

The official says the beautification projects that spruce up the canal banks will not serve any purpose unless the water quality is properly maintained.

The Centre for Earth Science Studies had carried out an environmental impact assessment of the project. The canals are connected to six farm collectives at the east end, which extends to 384 hectares.

The assessment has pointed out that paddy cultivation might be affected by the seawater.

The farmers need not be apprehensive as adequate precautions have been taken, the official says.

The seawater will not be pumped during paddy cultivation.

Eco-restoration

The eco-restoration work will be taken up in an engineering, procurement and consultancy mode. The consultant will train the local people in the initial two years and later equip them to handle the project.

Once the canals are cleaned and made free of weeds, the authorities hope to start circuit boat services through the canal network.

The department had finalised the tenders for the Rs.3.2-crore de-silting of 10 of the 60 canals.

The work is expected to commence soon, sources say. The State-owned KITCO is executing the beautification project of the canals.

The cleaning up of the canals comes close on the heels of the ambitious Rs.400-crore mega backwater circuit project being implemented in Alappuzha by Kerala Tourism with Central assistance. Setting up seven houseboat terminals and two night-halt terminals and development of two micro-destinations, two beaches and the town has got a Central assistance of Rs.47.62 crore. A sum of Rs.2.38 crore has been sanctioned from the fund as first instalment for starting the work and the amount has been released to Kerala Tourism.