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Post-rain, East Fort drowns in woes

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Won’t budge: Frantic efforts are on to make that dead engine sputter at East Fort. Rain translates into pain for motorists here.
Won’t budge: Frantic efforts are on to make that dead engine sputter at East Fort. Rain translates into pain for motorists here.

Special Correspondent

Overflow from Amayizhanjan canal floods the area; PWD yet to get fund for project

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The heavy showers which lashed the city on Friday flooded the East Fort area, leaving vehicles and commuters stranded. Commuters at the city bus stand had to wade through the filthy water to board buses. Shops on the Pazhavangady-Padma Nagar road were flooded, forcing them to down shutters in the morning.

Many vehicles had to be pushed to safe ground as their engines stalled while struggling to manoeuvre through the rising stormwaters. With the city bus stand under several feet of water, buses stopped to pick up passengers at the six-lane road leading to the Overbridge Junction. Devotees visiting the Ganapathy temple at Pazhavangady had a tough time negotiating the floodwaters. The flooded potholes proved to be treacherous for pedestrians and motorists alike.

Tall claims

The flood has made a mockery of the administration’s effort to address the problem of flooding. Traders and residents in the area have been on the warpath against what they term an unscientific flood control project that has served no purpose other than wasting public money. The overflow from the swollen Amayizhanjan canal is identified as the major cause for the flooding in the Pazhavangady area. In 2001, the culvert across the canal at the Pazhavangady junction was raised to accommodate the stormwaters but the project has apparently failed to minimise the problem.

Solution at hand

Thiruvananthapuram West MLA V. Surendran Pillai said the reconstruction of a bypass drain leading from the Amayizhanjan canal to the Thekkanamkara canal through the rear of the bus stand would help to divert a major portion of the floodwaters. “The previous Government had sanctioned Rs.31 lakhs for the project under the Theerapadham Urban Development Programme (TUDP). But despite repeated reminders, the amount has not been allotted to the Public Works Department,” he said.

A survey by the PWD had revealed that the Thekkanamkara canal is capable of accommodating the excess rainwater accumulating in front of the city bus stand. One of the main drainage systems in the city during the Travancore era, the canal was part of a complex network linking the Kochar, a tributary of the Killi river and the Padmatheertham pond in front of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple.

Encroachments

The Kochar brought water from the Killi to the Padmatheertham from where it was diverted to the Pathrakulam pond inside East Fort and then redirected to the Thekkanamkara canal. But this drainage network has not been utilised since the Pathrakulam pond was reclaimed. Over the years, two multi-storied buildings have come up over the Thekkanamkara canal in the Fort area.

The bypass drain passing through the bus stand was also blocked by encroachments.

Mr. Pillai said the PWD had also decided to reopen a sluice drain leading from the Amayizhanjan canal to the city bus stand area. In 2001, engineers working on a flood control project had blocked the opening on the assumption that the reverse flow through the channel was aggravating the flood situation in the East Fort area.

The drain was initially constructed to draw stormwaters into the canal. “Though we have decided to reopen the drain, there are apprehensions that the flow would be reversed once the water level in the canal goes up. Engineers will monitor the situation,” he said.

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