KOCHI: The Ernakulam district administration has begun the preparatory work to acquire land to develop Edappally Canal. A notification regarding a social impact study of the 11.15 km-long canal was issued on Wednesday. The canal, which connects Periyar River with Chithrapuzha, has many houses and establishments on its banks. Around 16.30 hectares of land is expected to be acquired for the widening of the canal, which has a minimum width of 16.50 metres.
The Rs 1,528-crore project is being implemented under the Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System (IURWTS) project. “The canal has been crying for redemption for decades now. Clogged with sediments and hyacinth, the quality of its water has been deteriorating severely. Recent reports from the pollution control board (PCB) regarding high levels of E. Coli bacteria in the canal water raises concerns about groundwater quality in our area. We hope the clean-up will address these issues perennially,” said Arjun V R, a resident.
The project, funded by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, is being implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. Besides widening the canal, the project will ensure four metres of air draft clearance to ensure smooth water transport. This is also expected to provide intermodal connectivity involving Kochi Metro and Water Metro.
However, the preparatory work to set up sewerage treatment plants is yet to begin. “A committee comprising RDO, Kochi corporation secretary and a pollution control board member was set up to identify specific sources of waste discharge. But there has been no decision yet. The deadline set by the High Court to complete the process is also over,” said a PCB official.
Project implemented under IURWTS expected to augment passenger and cargo transport through the canal
In April, the High Court had directed the Kochi corporation and Kalamassery Municipality to take action against illegal encroachments along the Edappally canal based on reports submitted by the state government’s survey team. Though the court only gave them three months, the process is yet to be initiated by the municipal bodies.
‘Reclaim encroached land’
Meanwhile, activists have urged the district collector to reclaim the encroached land as part of the project. “Despite having lodged a PIL at the High Court in 2018 seeking reclamation of encroached land along the canal, the district administration is helping the encroachers by paying compensation for their illegal land. The canal, which was formerly known as ‘Thukilankuthi Thodu’ had a minimum width of 50 metres and a maximum of 100 metres. Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority has the documents concerning CRZ violations caused by illegal encroachments along the Edappally canal. Be it ordinary residents or business establishments, every encroacher needs to be evicted,” said Cheshire Tarzen, an RTI activist.
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