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Canal cleaning: Kochi Corporation finds its hands tied

Mayor fears audit objection to desilting of major canals in the city

Parts of the annual pre-monsoon canal cleaning ritual have not been taken up, with the Kochi Corporation’s hands being tied in the matter of longer canals.

While smaller drains and canals have mostly been cleaned and desilted, others like the Perandoor canal and Kalvathy canal have not witnessed even the temporary redemption that comes from desilting.

The Thevara-Perandoor canal had been cleaned and desilted beginning in 2019 and continuing into 2020 as part of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), said Mayor M. Anilkumar. With those bills just being passed, sanctioning another round of cleaning of the Perandoor canal this year will not be possible, since it could lead to audit objection, he said. Besides, the canal has already been included in an upcoming Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) project—the Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System (IURWTS) —making it difficult for the civic body to initiate another project for the canal.

At an online council meeting on Monday, councillors pointed out that not cleaning the Perandoor canal would lead to severe waterlogging in the Panampilly Nagar area. Corporation sources said a total of ₹7.5 crore had been spent so far on desilting, fencing and repairing the sidewall of the Thevara-Perandoor canal under the AMRUT project.

The Kalvathy canal was also desilted partially under the AMRUT scheme, and another round of cleaning cannot be scheduled now, the Mayor said.

Meanwhile, a project for the Mullassery canal has been hanging in the balance for nearly a year now. The Operation Breakthrough team had been tasked with clearing obstructions to the flow of water in the Mullassery canal. The corporation had paid around ₹4 crore for the project which is yet to take off, Mr. Anilkumar said. While a tender was invited in April for work on the canal, contractors refused to take it up, since their payments were delayed for last year’s Operation Breakthrough projects, it is learnt. Besides, encroachments on the canal will have to be identified and removed by the Revenue Department and the corporation, before any work can be done on the canal itself.

Relief camps

Preparations will begin soon to set up relief camps, anticipating that the city will witness waterlogging during the monsoon, Mr. Anilkumar said at the council meeting. If residents need to be shifted out of homes, COVID patients will be shifted to treatment centres, and two separate relief camps will be arranged, one for those in quarantine, he said. The divisions of the corporation will be divided into eight zones, and locations for camps will be identified in these zones under the supervision of the works and health standing committee chairpersons, he informed councillors at the meeting.

“Work we could have done, we have completed. Other projects will take time to implement,” the Mayor said.

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