Navy to clean up clogged Venduruthy canal

The Venduruthy canal which is clogged with plastic waste .

The Venduruthy canal which is clogged with plastic waste .   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Naval personnel to manually remove waste on June 23

More than 20 years ago, Navy sail boats could breeze through the Venduruthy canal which is now clogged with plastic waste and silt. In a project that could span months or even years, the Southern Naval Command (SNC) at Venduruthy will begin to mend the damage to the polluted waters beside it.

The bushes on the banks of the canal are steeped in waste — broken chairs and plastic bottles and covers. According to Commodore G. Prakash, Commanding Officer of INS Venduruthy, the base station of the SNC, the accumulated waste has reduced the depth of the canal drastically in recent years. Along the canal, for 400 metres on either side, are mangroves, and they are threatened by waste in the water.

“Two weeks ago, we tried to get some plastic out and realised that it lies up to 20 metres below the water surface. The mud has layers of plastic under it,” said Cmde. Prakash. A team of around 160 personnel from the Navy will attempt to manually remove the waste on June 23, the platinum jubilee of INS Venduruthy. The roughly 3.5-km-long canal is met by a smaller channel from Vathuruthy.

The canal that flows beside Vathuruthy, adjoining the naval base and with a population of around 15,000, carries plastic waste into the Venduruthy canal before it drains into the Vembanad backwaters, said Cmde. Prakash. To keep the waste out, the Navy has set up a net at the widest point of the canal, where it meets water from Vathuruthy, but with little success.

“Two people from the corporation collect waste regularly. But most residents continue to dump waste in the canal to avoid paying fee for waste collection,” said councillor Shakritha Sureshbabu. Since the area is largely inhabited by construction labourers from Tamil Nadu, it is difficult to explain the matter to them, she added. She has asked two residents to watch out for people dumping waste and give them a warning.

Where the Cochin Shipyard’s now defunct petroleum storage tanks stand, the Vembanad lake stretched earlier. The canal is only around 5 metres wide behind the councillor’s house. “The local population used to fish in the canal a few years ago. It is too dirty to fish now,” she said. Ms. Sureshbabu has noticed an increase in migrant population in Vathuruthy in the last 20 years.

In collaboration with the corporation, the Navy plans to set up bins and compost pits in Vathuruthy. Considering the large population concentrated in a small area, Ms. Sureshbabu said there might not be enough space for compost pits.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:21:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/navy-to-clean-up-clogged-venduruthy-canal/article28090757.ece

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