KOCHI: Kalamassery residents fear rain now. They know that a downpour will take just 30 minutes to flood various areas in the municipality.For, that is exactly what happened on October 21 when heavy rain that pounded the district inundated residential areas across South Kalamassery, including Vidya Nagar, Alfiya Nagar, Arafa Nagar, Pottachal Nagar, Town Hall Nagar, Kummenchery Nagar and Manathupadam Nagar. The residents blame encroachments on Pottachal canal and its reclamation for their woes.
“Water from Kalamassery and nearby areas is directed to Pottachal canal. The canal on the side of Thrikkakara temple is also connected to this one and the water empties into the Edappally canal. During rain, water level in the canal sees a sudden rise,” says Krishna Kumar T P, a resident of Vidya Nagar. “However, the canal’s width is uneven due to encroachments by residents and road construction works. This obstructs the passage of water which flows back to residential areas,” he said.
Rajesh G, who has been living in Vidya Nagar for 35 years, said it was the first time he witnessed rainwater entering the houses. “A low-lying area in Vidya Nagar was affected the worst. Water entered almost 50 houses, damaging the furniture, household equipment and wardrobe. Since the roads were submerged, people could not move out of their houses. Several vehicles were also damaged. Many colonies in the vicinity, mostly inhabited by retired employees from nearby factories, were flooded. Muddy water entered at least 25 per cent of houses in each colony,” he said.
Pottachal is the lone channel carrying water from South Kalamassery to Edapally canal. The residents complained that though encroachments on Pottachal canal were evident, the municipality was reluctant on taking action. “Usually, rainwater takes 30-45 minutes to recede from the area. Now it takes 7-8 hours. This troubles residents,” says T M Ashraf, a resident of Alfiya Nagar.‘
Need scientific study’
Alfiya Nagar resident M J Joseph said according to authorities, the flooding was caused by the intense rainfall and the immense volume of water in the canal. “However, the water, whatever be its volume, should flow out to Edappally canal, right?” he asks. “Pottachal and Edappally canals have a considerable level difference. Since Pottachal canal’s width has reduced significantly, local bodies should clean the canal to ensure smooth flow of water.
True, the local bodies have financial constraints. So, all residents’ associations are ready to help them. They will also get technical assistance from qualified association members. We are planning to conduct a survey from Kalamassery to Edappally canal and will submit a detailed report highlighting the encroachments before the municipality and district collector so that they can scientifically analyse the issue. Ward councillors are supporting us,” said Joseph.
Rajesh said the authorities concerned should take stringent action to clear all encroachments on Pottachal canal. “We are going forward with the survey and hope to get the initial report by November 24. The authorities will be provided with a clear picture of the encroachments,” he said. “We are spending sleepless nights now as we have to monitor the water level when it rains. This should end,” he said.