Over 72 families in Udaya colony in Gandhi Nagar woke up on Thursday morning to see their houses flooded. The situation was no different in the nearby P&T colony.
With heavy rains lashing the city, several houses were flooded and canals and sewage drains overflowed, highlighting the failure of the Kochi Corporation to carry out the pre-monsoon cleaning works on time.
Ideally, the pre-monsoon cleaning drive was to begin in December. It includes taking measures to clean the arterial canals and large drains to ease the flow of water to the sea. The initial plan of the Corporation was to carry out pre-monsoon cleaning and the mosquito eradication drive together in December. A sum of `2.5 lakh was announced for pre-monsoon cleaning of drains per division, but nothing materialised.
In many places, contractors have only reached the stage of calculating the estimate for the pre-monsoon cleaning work. Apart from this, many of the drains in the city are filled with debris from the Metro rail work.
“Just cleaning canals and drains would not solve the issue. The city needs a scientific approach, as many areas in Kochi are lying at par with sea level or below it,” said councillor M Anil Kumar.
Councillors point out that even if the contractors complete the work, many of the issues would remain. “Cutting a 10 to 20 per cent profit and the taxes, the actual work on ground would come to only `1.75 lakh. This is highly inadequate,” said councillor M P Mahesh Kumar.
However Corporation Works Standing Committee Chairperson Soumini Jain, said the Corporation has put in its best efforts.
“The complaints regarding pre-monsoon cleaning are not genuine. As the Corporation has staff shortage to monitor works, committees were set up at ward levels to evaluate the cleaning works. Ward councillors are also members in this committee and it was their responsibility to check the works. According to our assessment, about 50 to 80 per cent of the estimated cleaning works have been completed,” said Soumini Jain.
She added that there are practical difficulties for the corporation to desilt large drains completely. “We clean large drains only in alternate years. We have fund shortage to desilt large drains completely. Take the case of Perandoor canal. It is a 10 km long canal which passes through three Corporation zones,” said Soumini Jain.