KOCHI: In the recent rains, around 150 houses in Choornikara panchayat were flooded leading to 444 inhabitants taking shelter in relief camps. The panchayat officials claim that the reclamation of paddy fields at Muttom to build the metro yard was the primary reason for the waterlogging in aftermath of the heavy downpour. The residents of Kunnathery, Ambattukavu, Madathazham, Muttom and Napattiparambu were the ones badly affected.
According to Babu Puthenangadi, panchayat president of Choornikkara, the flooding happened due to the unsystematic construction of canals. “There’s a canal flowing from Madathazham to Kalamassery which flows through the metro yard. The two-metre wide canal connected to farmlands was constructed unscientifically and it fails to collect residual water flowing from the nearby fields.
There’s also a canal built by the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), east to the yard. It is narrow and is filled with mud and other waste obstructing the flow. Another canal to the north of the yard is also filled with mud. KMRL should take initiatives to clean these canals and the one flowing through the yard needs to be rebuilt,” he says.
Though the situation was similar last year as well, the residents of Choornikara assumed that it was because of the rare nature of the disaster which submerged the entire state. The vast 44-acre Muttom metro yard is situated right in the middle of paddy fields. Though there were objections to the construction of the yard, the government decided to go through with the project.
The KMRL had promised to implement a rainwater harvesting system within the yard, but panchayat officials say that the assurance has been put on the back burner. “The metro management has spent crores of rupees in installing solar panels. Building a proper canal instead would have mitigated the residents’ ordeal,” says Babu. The panchayat meeting held on Tuesday concluded with a proposal to meet the KMRL managing director to raise concerns.
According to a KMRL official, the metro yard was established in 2016 and issues regarding flooding in the surrounding areas were not brought to their notice. “We haven’t received any complaints before. The yard was built only after conducting a thorough environmental impact study. We have constructed it after taking into consideration all suggestions about the maintenance of canals. We are yet to receive a formal complaint from the panchayat officials regarding the matter. We will surely look into the issue upon receiving one,” the KMRL official said.