KOCHI: Despite tall claims by the Kochi Corporation that it had carried out canal clearing works extensively to prevent waterlogging, many of the low-lying areas in the city were inundated during the recent rains.
According to experts, the practice of dredging and increasing the depth of canals alone will not help solve the problem.
Pointing to the failure of the recently-cleared Thevara-Perandoor (TP) Canal to ensure free flow of rain water, experts said in places like Kochi, where tidal variations are high, canals should be wide enough to support the movement of surface water. Increasing the depth will not ensure flow of surface water. Nothing much was done to retain the width of the TP Canal. Over the years, the width of the canal has been reduced owing to encroachments and unscientific construction of bridges and culverts.
"There was some obstruction under the culvert in Kaloor which prevented free flow of water. The canal is too narrow under the culvert and the floating debris gets deposited here, blocking the passage. It is not possible to move floating dredgers under the culvert and clean the surface. This results in water getting clogged," said S Gopakumar, president, Better Kochi Response Group, a city-based NGO.
He also said to reduce the span of bridges, agencies like the PWD was in the habit of extending constructions into the canal, reducing its width.
The corporation, with the support of the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), cleaned the TP Canal spending Rs 2.62 crore. KMRL had entrusted the task with the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC). Opposition councillor K J Jacob said the local body hadn't taken steps to clean up the smaller canals that opened into TP Canal. Any cleaning drive would be effective only if the 32 culverts along the railway tracks are properly cleared, he said.
Admitting their inability to solve the problem of waterlogging, corporation authorities said efforts to clear the drains hadn't been successful. Works standing committee chairperson Soumini Jain and welfare standing committee chairperson Essy Joseph said people continued to dump waste and plastic materials into the drains, leading to clogging. "Moreover, as many areas in Kochi are below sea-level, it is almost impossible to prevent waterlogging," said Soumini Jain.