CIAL relies on ₹120-crore flood mitigation work to fend off future challenges

Four years after its operation areas, including the runway, were flooded, forcing a fortnight-long closure, Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) hopes that its comprehensive flood mitigation measures since then will help avert a potential repeat of the situation.

The airport completed 26 different flood mitigation projects worth ₹120 crore over three years in December 2021. While the extensive system put in place since then remains untested, the airport company remains confident that it may help it face future challenges.

A major component of the project was an 8-metre-wide and 3.5-km-long diversion canal taking excess water from the neighbouring Chengal canal to Kuzhipallam during floods. Further investment was made on widening and enhancing the depth of the canal by splitting it into seven different reaches for enhancing their carrying capacity, said CIAL sources.

However, since the completion of the canal, it was pressed into service only a couple of hours in August last year and earlier this month. Since the deluge of 2018, the airport only had to close for a day the very next year. Though a somewhat similar situation evolved in 2020 when the diversion canal was still not completed, the situation eased, avoiding a potential closure. Water currently released from the Cheruthoni and Idamalayar reservoirs is expected to enhance the water level in the Periyar only slightly, according to authorities.

CIAL conducted Operation Pravaah last year to test the efficiency of its various flood mitigation measures.

As part of the flood mitigation project, CIAL had also replaced old culverts around its area with four proper bridges – Chethikkad bridge, A.P. Varkey Road bridge, Kuzhipallam bridge, and Thuravunkara bridge. A complete pumping apparatus and nine gauges have also been set up on the airport premises.

CIAL has constituted a special task force comprising officials drawn from various departments to monitor rain. “The team meets at least twice a day to assess the situation. We also have a dynamic surveillance system complete with a comprehensive centralised database based on which the latest readings from the gauge stations in river basins and the impact of release of water from reservoirs are evaluated. Social media groups have also been formed to share the latest information on real-time basis,” said CIAL sources.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 8:13:08 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/cial-relies-on-120-crore-flood-mitigation-work-to-fend-off-future-challenges/article65749358.ece