Kuttanad Vikasana Samithy (KVS), an NGO, has said that the renovation and deepening works of the Alappuzha-Changanassery (AC) canal will be a futile exercise unless there was coordination among the various departments of irrigation, revenue, health, fisheries, tourism and environment.
Fr. Thomas Peelianickal, executive director of KVS, said engineers of the irrigation department should not undertake the renovation of the AC canal in a unilateral manner.
The renovation and deepening of the canal was accorded the highest priority in the Kuttanad package. Dr. Swaminathan had recommended the renovation and deepening of the canal with a view to protect the ecology of Kuttanad, control floods, upkeep people’s health, develop water transport and canal tourism which will rake in money for the local people.
The package recommended the removal of all obstacles and deepening works in the now open part of the canal from Changanassery to Onnamkara and also opening of the canal up to Pallathuruthy.
Fr. Peelianickal alleged that the irrigation department and its engineers were planning to retain all the bridges which shorten the breadth of the canals, except one in Kidangara. “Was the project shaped after consultation with its beneficiaries? The canal renovation project shaped on the interests of the engineers without any technical consultation or environmental study will only sabotage the intentions of Kuttanad package,” he said.
He demanded that the tenders should be put out only after revising the designs of the existing bridges by raising their heights and rebuilding them. He also said that the rehabilitation package for small-scale traders should have been created after discussions with them.
He also demanded the construction of air-conditioned stalls with waste processing plants in the Kuttanad package where hotels, vegetable shops and slaughterhouses on both sides of the canal can be shifted to. He also called for the removal of water hyacinths and other pollutants in the canals. The cleaning up of the canal and rehabilitation of people should be undertaken in the first phase of the project to renovate the AC canal, he added.