Kochi

Grimy and black flow canals of West Kochi

Kochi/ Kerala, 12/11/19: Manthra canal in Fort Kochi.
Photo:H. Vibhu/The Hindu.

Kochi/ Kerala, 12/11/19: Manthra canal in Fort Kochi. Photo:H. Vibhu/The Hindu.   | Photo Credit: H_Vibhu

Cleaning and desilting works not undertaken in some canals; only small sections included under Amrut project

P.D. Xavier prays for a boat. The resident of Tharebhagam, near Thoppumpady, does not need it for a voyage of the seas but to navigate the path in front of his house.

The road sometimes became one with the canal beside it at high tide, said Mr. Xavier. The nightmarish combination of heavy rain and high tide on October 21 forced Mr. Xavier and around 70 people living along the Pallichalthodu in Tharebhagam to wade through knee-deep water to an anganwadi and community hall nearby, where they waited for the water to recede.

Sections of the canal had been cleaned and desilted around four months ago under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) project for canal and stormwater drain restoration, said Tharebhagam councillor Preethy K.H. The project involved cleaning and desilting a kilometre-long stretch of the canal and constructing retaining walls along its sides, said an Amrut official.

But, beside Mr. Xavier’s house, the canal was neither desilted nor was a retaining wall raised. The water flows black and clogged with garbage. Only a small section of the canal in Thoppumpady and Tharebhagam was included as part of the Amrut project, said Ms. Preethy. Tharebhagam received ₹25 lakh under the project — sufficient only to cover some parts with concrete slabs and desilt narrow portions of the canal, she said. While the councillor awaits additional funds, the Amrut official said the Pallichalthodu restoration had been listed as complete.

The Kalvathy canal and Eraveli canal, which meet at the Kalvathy bridge before they drain into the sea, have not been included in the Amrut project. Both had not been cleaned or desilted in around four years, said Zeenath Rasheed, councillor from Kalvathy. On October 21, water entered several houses around the Eraveli canal, though the area had been spared even during the floods last year, said Smitha Anwar, a resident of Eraveli.

As per Smart City Mission Limited’s (SCML) initial proposal, restoration of the Kalvathy canal was to be included under it.

But with the recent plan of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) to restore five city canals in collaboration with a Dutch agency, the status of the Kalvathy canal is unclear. Only a small portion of the Kalvathy canal had been included under the Smart City Mission and the mission had asked for the canal to be entirely included under KMRL’s new project, said an SCML source.

Some houses along both the Pallichalthodu and Kalvathy canal were constructed with assistance under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna (PMAY) for the urban poor.

‘Neglected’

“West Kochi's canals are regularly neglected,” said Bindu Levin, councillor from Karippalam. A section of the Rameswaram-Manthra canal passes through Karippalam, where over a hundred houses were flooded in October. “According to Amrut officials, this section of the canal will not be included in their restoration project for Rameswaram and Manthra canals. Only fencing of the canal was undertaken at Karippalam under the Amrut project and it has been left out of the SCML proposal,” said Ms. Levin. Restoration of the Manthra canal will be undertaken from Cochin College up till Karippalam, according to the Amrut plan.

R. Shasheendran and his family, who live in a small tin-roofed house in a low-lying area of Karippalam, are still drying their belongings outside their house, three weeks after the water wreaked havoc. The water regularly graces their doorstep, along with several others near the canal in Karippalam in the monsoon. “It has been four years since the canal in Karippalam has been cleaned. Cleaning these stretches would also have to involve getting rid of the sewage pipes that drain directly into the canal and raising fences to prevent residents from throwing waste into it,” said Ms. Levin.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 11:46:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/grimy-and-black-flow-canals-of-west-kochi/article29957158.ece

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