Even when the usually snail-paced Kerala Water Authority (KWA) appears to have pulled up its socks and acted quite fast to complete preparations for a major drinking water project – the Rs.65 crore Kalliyoor-Venganoor-Vizhinjam-Kovalam water supply scheme – that promises succour to over a lakh people, other procedural delays are holding up the project.

The project, a combined financial effort of the Tourism Department, NABARD, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the Thiruvananthapuram District panchayat and the State government, saw tenders being invited, the contract being awarded and all other procedures being completed in less than five months. But the final and most crucial component for the project, that of land for a 22 million litres a day (MLD) water treatment plant, is yet to come through.

The scheme, which was announced in late October last year, is aimed at quenching the thirst of four panchayats, including the internationally popular tourism spot of Kovalam and the upcoming international container terminal at Vizhinjam, which face a perennial water shortage. To draw water from the Vellayani Lake, the site for the 22MLD treatment plant was fixed as a two-acre site on the campus of the Vellayani College of Agriculture. However, according to KWA sources, though the contract for setting up the WTP was awarded last month, the work was yet to start since the land had not been handed over so far. “The GO directing the college to hand over the land is yet to come. Last learnt, the file had reached the Land Revenue Commissioner’s office,” a senior official said. At the same time, land for storage tanks for the project across the four panchayats were either handed over, purchased or in the last stages of the same. These were at spots including KS Road near Muttakadu, Mukkola and Peringammala. The project, as reported by The Hindu in March, is also facing another yet-to-be-solved dilemma, that of the delay by Water Resources Department officials in cleaning the Vellayani West canal, through which water has to reach the project’s water source – the Vellayani Lake – from the Neyyar dam during peak summer. The issue is still being pursued by the local governing bodies involved, sources said.