KOCHI: The torrential rain that battered the state last week was an opportunity for Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) authorities to test whether the mechanism they had put in place to prevent flooding of the airport facilities was a success.According to the authorities, the renovation of Chengalthodu and diversion canal on the southern side of the runway, and the round-the-clock mechanism to monitor water level, have boosted the confidence of CIAL authorities as these projects helped avert a flood-like situation similar to last year’s when the water level in the Periyar rose to 7.5 m above sea level on August 6.
Earlier, the deluge in 2018 had resulted in the airport being shut down for 15 days, causing a loss of around Rs 160 crore. In August 2019 also the airport was shut for around 50 hours due to flooding. “With the renovation of Chengalthodu and the construction of the diversion canal, the rain water can flow directly into Periyar without causing waterlogging in the entire airport area.
These works were taken up under the infrastructure development project in the neighbouring panchayats with an objective of preventing floods in future which cost `129.3 crore. CIAL had planned to construct the 3.5 km-long diversion canal from Thuravankara to Kuzhippallam at a width of 23 m. However, around 90 days were lost due to lockdown and it was able to complete 8 m widening which helped in the smooth draining of rainwater,” said a CIAL official.
Ahead of the monsoon, the CIAL authorities had set up gauges for measuring rainwater in a circumference of 8 km of the airport from Avanamkode drain to Chengalthodu. The flooding in Chengalthodu was a headache for the authorities. Hence three culverts which blocked the smooth flow of water were removed. Two bridges were completed in the area spending around Rs 15 crore. The exit point of the diversion canal is at Kuzhippallam and a bridge was constructed there spending `10 crore. The nearby water bodies upto Parambayam at a circumference of 10 km of the airport, were cleaned using Pontoon boat and slit pusher.
“The breaking of rocks at ‘Kallumkoottam’, near Kanjoor area on the diversion canal was a Herculean task and this caused flooding in the area in 2019. Once the work was completed, the height of the area got reduced. This allowed increased flow of water through diversion canal. The rock breaking was done using wire saw rock cutting without causing any impact to the environment,” said Sano Jacob, managing director, Interprise Innovation Projects based in Kochi.