Flood management claims go down the drain in Kochi

Rainwater holds most parts of city hostage; thickly populated colonies worst hit by overnight showers

July 30, 2020 12:48 am | Updated 12:48 am IST - KOCHI

In deep waters:  With their homes at P&T Colony in the city badly flooded in overnight showers, children from the settlement take refuge at a wayside shop nearby on Wednesday.

In deep waters: With their homes at P&T Colony in the city badly flooded in overnight showers, children from the settlement take refuge at a wayside shop nearby on Wednesday.

Heavy overnight showers proved on Wednesday that if it rained heavily, water would not break through clogged canals and blocked drains.

Rainwater held most parts of the city, including West Kochi, hostage, disproving claims of having done adequate flood planning work to save Kochi from waterlogging.

Thickly-populated residential colonies in low-lying areas like Udaya Colony, P&T Colony, and Mattancherry were among the worst affected, with water from drains and sewers entering houses. Several households had to shift to the first floor in many areas, including in the eastern parts of the Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass, which are generally less impacted by flooding during rainy weather.

As always, agencies blamed one another.

A senior Kochi Corporation official said the civic body had done a proper pre-monsoon clean-up of drains and canals, albeit belatedly, despite the lockdown.

“Slush and silt that accumulated in the mouth of many waterbodies following the 2018 floods have not been cleared so far by the departments concerned. Funds available under the Centre’s AMRUT scheme must be spared to improve the situation. Even Operation Breakthrough, spearheaded by the district administration and the Irrigation Department following the 2019 floods, did not yield the desired results. Officials of the corporation were not taken into confidence in carrying out several works, said P.M. Harris, chairman of the works standing committee.

Mullassery canal caused flooding

Poornima Narayan, councillor representing Gandhinagar, said the flooding in the area around Kammattipadam was mostly due to botched work taken up on the Mullassery canal under the AMRUT scheme. “The canal is connected to the Perandoor canal through a culvert near the railway lines. From the area where the canal starts behind the KSRTC bus stand, the depth of the Mullassery canal has been reduced from around 4 feet to 1.5 feet, and the base has been cemented. Consequently, the water that is collected in the Mullassery canal from the entire city rushes into the Kamattipadam area, instead of flowing into the backwaters,” she said.

Baji Chandran, Executive Engineer, Minor Irrigation Department, concurred. The bed level of around 400 metres of the 994-metre-long canal has been raised with concrete, he said. “This work will have to be undone under Operation Breakthrough, at a cost of around ₹2 crore. With COVID-related restrictions and the monsoon setting in, it had been delayed,” said Mr. Chandran, who heads the execution of Phase-II of Operation Breakthrough. If work on the Mullassery canal had been completed, waterlogging around the KSRTC bus stand, Chittoor Road, and M.G. Road, to some extent, could have been resolved.

AMRUT officials, however, denied that any project had been taken up on the Mullassery canal. “To facilitate the smooth flow of water from the nearby Vivekananda thodu into the Mullassery canal, the side walls of the canal near the KSRTC bus stand had been raised, only for about a 10-metre stretch of the canal. The base of the canal has not been concreted,” the officials said.

Meanwhile, the District Collector S. Suhas inspected the premises of the KSEB sub-station at Kaloor on Wednesday to take stock of waterlogging in the wake of the incessant rain that lashed Kochi.

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