Rubber dam proposed on the Pampa

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In dire straits: Alarming fall in water level in the Pampa has hampered the smooth conduct of snake boat race.
In dire straits: Alarming fall in water level in the Pampa has hampered the smooth conduct of snake boat race.

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

Cost comes to Rs. 7 crore; houseboats likely to be launched in river

PATHANAMTHITTA: The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) has proposed a rubber dam on the Pampa river at Aranmula as a permanent arrangement for the smooth conduct of Uthrittathi Vallamkali, an annual snake boat pageantry and race during the Onam festival.

The drastic depletion of the riverbed and fall in water level of the Pampa, due to indiscriminate sand mining over the past several years, has been hampering the free movement of boats through this route during the snake boat regatta. The organisers were even forced to abandon the race two years ago due to low water level.

The DTPC secretary, V.Santhoshkumar, said that the proposal to install a modern rubber dam-cum-water stadium was aimed at effectively addressing the water problem in the Aranmula race course.

Mr. Santhoshkumar said that the DTPC also proposed adventure water sports, snake boat rowing practice, boat club, swimming club and launching of houseboats in the Pampa, once the rubber dam is installed.

He said that the Steel Industries Limited, Kerala (SILK), a public sector undertaking, has agreed to install the rubber dam. The estimated cost of the proposed dam is Rs 7 crore.

The DTPC has submitted a memorandum to T.K.A.Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, seeking Central assistance for the project, he added.

The local MLA, K.C.Rajagopalan, said that the proposed rubber dam is an eco-friendly project which could boost the tourism potential of Aranmula to a great extent.

Rubber dams are popular in the West and China, says Mr. T.P.Pankajakshan Pillai, structural engineer and former Executive Engineer attached to the Water Resources Department.

India’s first major rubber dam was installed across river Junjhavati in Andhra Pradesh by an Austrian company a year ago.

According to experts, the advantage of the prefabricated rubber dam is that it takes less time to install. The dam, which resembles a cycle tube, can be increased in height to store more water and reduced in height when excess water is to be let out in case of floods. Water, and not air, is let in or out of the tube for both purposes.

Moreover, the rubber is thick, reinforced with layers of strong nylon mesh, and cannot be pierced even by bullets. SILK had signed an agreement with Hydroconstruct of Austria for the construction, maintenance and marketing of rubber dams in India.

The Collector, Ashok Kumar Singh, who is also the DTPC chairman, said that a team of experts would soon visit Andhra Pradesh to conduct more studies on the rubber dam and its practical application in the Pampa.




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