Improvement of Kovalam-Akkulam stretch of canal

The development of the 18.49-km Kovalam-Akkulam stretch of the Thiruvananthapuram-Shoranur (TS) canal has been found to be “technically feasible and beneficial to society” as it can be thrown open for inland navigation, tourism, and recreational purposes.

A detailed investigation carried out for the Coastal Shipping and the Inland Navigation Department has revealed that the waterway is stagnant along most of the canal, owing to sewage disposal and growth of water hyacinth.

Narrow and shallow canals and cross structures with low clearances are the impediments for safe navigation. A majority of the environmental issues in the 18.49-km stretch are between Moonattumukku and Venpalavattom where 700 families reside on the banks. Poor drainage and solid waste management issues add to the problems.

The cleaning up of the water channel, which runs close to the terminal complex of the airport on the city side, assumes significance in the wake of the move to start cruise tourism from the airport to Kovalam. Once a prime channel for trade and transport, the waterway is now out of bounds for transportation owing to rampant encroachment, waste discharge, and poor maintenance.

The study, carried out by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac) in conjunction with the Irrigation and Revenue Departments, has found that wastewater generation and solid waste generation from the settlers will be 1,962 lakh litres and 6.8 lakh kg, respectively, by 2025.

Cross structures

It has been found that 22 cross structures — comprising 11 road bridges, seven footbridges, two rail bridges, a lock and an aqueduct — on the stretch have low horizontal and vertical clearance. The Natpac has recommended their reconstruction and demolition of four weak footbridges.

Road bridges at Edayar, Ponnara, Puthanpalam, and Karikkakom need to be reconstructed along with the footbridges at Muttathara and Kairali Nagar.

The bridges found structurally weak are at Panathura, Edayar, Karikkakom, and Vazhavila. A road bridge has been proposed at the Pannathura Subramania Swamy temple to connect to the TS canal. It has been estimated that Rs.152.74 crore is needed for improving the Kovalam-Akkulam stretch of the canal. Cleaning, dredging of the canal, and construction of bridge at Panathura and community toilets will incur a cost of Rs.12.16 crore. Of this, cleaning and dredging will cost Rs.5.53 crore.

Natpac, in its report submitted earlier this month, has recommended that the stretch has to be de-silted to maintain the flow of water and to achieve the minimum required depth of water for movement of vessels.

Protection of the right and left banks of the canal with stone boulders and coir grids, cross structure modification, reconstruction, laying of sewage pipelines to prevent pollution of the canal, four biogas plants, and setting up of navigation aids have been recommended by the Natpac for Phase II.