Kochi: Even as steps have been initiated to clear the choked city drains ahead of monsoon, the threat of water clogging looms large over the people residing in the vicinity of the metro yard in Muttom.
Locals said the reclamation of land at Chavarpadam, site for the proposed metro yard, was posing a threat to the natural drainage system connecting the low-lying area with river Periyar. “The land filling operations have considerably shrunk the size of drainages while the Punchathodu Periyar Valley canal, a major water body in the locality, has been levelled partially, resulting in an artificial flooding during the monsoon,” said K.K.Sivanandan, a local resident and a member of Choornikkara Panchayat.
“At least 400 families residing in the areas of Muttom, Ambattukavu and Thayikkattukara fear that their houses will get inundated in the upcoming rainy season,” Mr. Sivanandan said. To back his argument, he also pointed to the flooding caused by a release of excess water from the Idukki dam, last year.
The locals also said that they wanted the land reclamation to stop immediately and had even staged protests at the spot. They said that if the reclamation could not be stopped, then they wanted a proper retaining of drainage systems.
Confirming that land filling operations led to narrowing of drainage channels, Santha Unnikrishnan, president of Choornikkara panchayat, said that the situation would worsen if the government and the metro authority failed to act in time. “They have already reclaimed acres of land and despite the assurances earlier, the Kochi Metro Rail Limited is yet to work on the construction of drainages to accommodate the excess water flowing to here,” she said.
Despite approaching the district administration and the State government seeking urgent action, the local body was yet to get any assurances regarding the setting up of a canal system before the onset of monsoon. “Notwithstanding the fact that the authorities are already late working on it, the issue will be raised as a matter requiring urgent action during a meeting to be held at the office of the Chief Minister on May 7,” the president added.
Commenting on the issue, a top official with the metro authority said that a committee would be formed comprising representatives of the Panchayat, Kochi metro authority and the district administration to execute the work on an alternative drainage network. “We have already constructed several stretches of the canal system in the area and the remaining work will be taken up on a priority basis in the wake of a fast approaching monsoon,” the official said.
Hundreds take to the streets demanding end to traffic woes
Protesters demand time-bound completion of Kochi metro
Hundreds of activists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] and the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) took out a march to the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) office on Tuesday demanding time-bound completion of Kochi metro and steps to streamline traffic flow in the vicinity of metro work sites.
Speakers at a dharna organised in front of the KMRL office in Revenue Tower said traffic problems could have been avoided if the State government, the Kochi Corporation and the KMRL had widened narrow roads, developed alternative roads and bridges that were planned years before metro works commenced. Currently, even ambulances are stuck in traffic for long periods.
The suspicion is rife that metro works are being delayed at the behest of vested interests. The statement by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Principal Advisor E. Sreedharan that the metro might not be commissioned on time because of different obstacles pointed to the State government’s inability to speed up works, they said. Those who spoke include P. Rajeeve, MP, and CPI(M) district secretary C.M. Dinesh Mani.