Vaduthala bund a curse with no end

Residents of the adjacent islands are still apprehensive about who will remove the Vaduthala bund.

Published: 20th November 2021 06:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th November 2021 06:41 AM   |  A+A-

The Vaduthala bund, formed as a result of the accumulation of silt and construction debris from the Vallarpadam railway bridge | ALBIN MATHEW

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Residents of the adjacent islands are still apprehensive about who will remove the Vaduthala bund. After the Cochin Port Trust got a stay against the government order directing it to remove the bund, the issue is now being considered by the Kerala High Court. The HC will hear Port Trust’s version on 
November 25. 

A study conducted by the irrigation department says the bund poses a serious threat. It can trigger floods between Vaduthala and Malayattoor, the study pointed out. According to Santhosh Jacob, member of the Social Action Welfare Alliance Society (SAWAS), the problems created by the bund were brought to light in 2010 when fishermen found that their movements were obstructed by it, despite the completion of the Vallarpadam railway bridge. 

“As per the contract signed with AFCON — the company that was entrusted with the construction of the bridge — the temporary bund was to be removed once the bridge was handed over,” said Santhosh. When the fishermen approached the High Court, it ruled that the bund needs to be removed. “The HC directed the district collector to file a report regarding the process,” he added.  The 2018 and 2019 floods scared residents further. He says the ownership of the bund is a problem. 

“Now, everyone seems to be claiming it as their property. Cochin Port Trust, Kochi Corporation and Irrigation Department have erected their boards on the land,” he said.After the flooding, SAWAS  submitted a complaint with the chief minister. “We highlighted the issue for the second time in 10 years. This triggered many inspections and cabinet-level meetings were held. It was even raised in the assembly, but nothing concrete happened,” added Santhosh.

Finally, following the court’s intervention, the state government issued an order directing the Cochin Port Trust to remove the bund, but the trust received a stay on it. The residents of Thanthonnithuruth, Korangotta and Mulavukad islands are now living in fear. 

Flood fear
The report by Irrigation Department states the removal of the bund is necessary for the proper flow of water, passing of boats as well as the development of the ecosystem of the area. Approximately 15.60 lakh cubic metres of silt is to be removed and the irrigation department has estimated the cost at H24.30 crore.

A DECADE AND COUNTING

  • 2009-10: Construction of Vallarpadam railway bridge is completed
  • 2010: A petition is filed in the High Court seeking removal of the bund created to aid the construction of the bridge
  • 2010: HC directs the government to remove the bund and asks the district collector to submit a report after conducting an inspection
  • 2018-19: The devastating floods inundate the three islands along with Eloor, Kalamassery and Aluva
  • 2020 May: SAWAS submits a complaint before the chief minister
  • 2021 July: Approach Minister P Rajeeve seeking resolution of the issue.
  • 2021 October: HC  directs the government to remove the bund in three weeks. Following this, the state enrusts Port Trust with the removal


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