Panchayat members lay siege to KWA office

On the receiving end of people’s ire over acute shortage of water, elected members from Elamkunnapuzha and Cheranalloor panchayats laid siege to the office of the Superintending Engineer, Kerala Water Authority (KWA), here on Thursday.

All the 23 members of Elamkunnapuzha panchayat and all, except three, of the 14 members of Cheranalloor panchayat cutting across political affiliations participated in the protest. Hibi Eden, MP, and T.J. Vinod, MLA, joined the protest later.

“At least some parts of all the 23 wards in the panchayat have been experiencing acute water shortage for the past three months. We had staged a protest on February 22 when KWA officials promised us to address the issue within three days, which they did not fulfill,” said Elamkunnapuzha panchayat president Rasikala Priyaraj.

Members of Cheranalloor panchayat had also undertaken a protest on February 9 and were assured of restoration of water supply within two days. “But that written assurance was not met, and now all the 17 wards face water shortage in varying degrees,” said Cheranalloor panchayat president K.G. Rajesh. The panchayat had been in the throes of water scarcity ever since the day-long shutdown of the water treatment plant at Aluva on January 8.

Mr. Eden said the city and coastal regions had been facing unprecedented water shortage even before the onset of summer.

“The KWA has attributed the problem to the shutdown of the treatment plant at Aluva two months ago. They [KWA officials] are now talking about measuring water flow while they should be focusing on boosting pumping, checking lines and valves to address the problem on a war footing,” he added.

Mr. Eden accused the government of having ignored a ₹243-crore project for a 180-MLD plant for which administrative sanction was granted by the previous UDF government and which would have permanently addressed water shortage.

C.K. Preethimol, Superintending Engineer, PH Circle, Kochi, cited the proposal for a 143-MLD plant alongside the Aluva water treatment plant as a permanent solution. “The quarters and the pipeline passing through the site need to be relocated before the project could be taken up,” she said.

S. Sarma, MLA, who took up the matter with the KWA Chief Engineer, said diversion and illegal storage of water in overhead tanks by a few were contributing to water shortage. He added that an inspection would be carried out to detect diversions, and the KWA would issue a statement warning of prosecution for illegal storage of water.

Mr. Vinod urged the KWA to undertake an inquiry into the reason behind water shortage despite no restrictions on pumping of water.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:19:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/panchayat-members-lay-siege-to-kwa-office/article33992796.ece

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