THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the government work to clean the Parvathy Puthanar progresses, the stretch from Kovalam to Akkulam, which was cleaned in the first phase, is back to its old ways. Sources said weeds and garbage have begun to accumulate. Besides, the work on the stretch near Karikkakom could not be undertaken with hyacinths clogging the canal.
Mayor VK Prasanth told Express that the work is moving on a fast pace. "We will remove the weeds soon. Steps will be taken to speed up the work. More houses need to be connected with the sewage lines," said Prasanth.
The corporation will also constitute squads to keep a check on people who dump garbage on the canal again. As part of the drive, extracting weed and mud from the Vallakadavu to Akkulam stretch is being undertaken now. The entire work is done in six phases. Earth movers are being used to increase the depth of the waterbody, so as to enable movement of boats. Modern equipment like slit pusher and shredders are also used.
Kerala Waterways and Infrastructures Ltd (KWIL), an SPV formed by the state government and Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), has been entrusted with the canal development at a cost of Rs 150 crores. As per the proposal, the 18.5-km Kovalam-Akkulam Lake stretch will be developed in the first phase and made navigable with minimum land acquisition.
In the second phase, the two tunnels at Varkala will be cleared so as to ensure a free flow of water from Kovalam to Kollam. The work, including cleaning of the canal and rehabilitating people living on its banks, will be undertaken in a time-bound manner.As per the action plan, boat jetties and tourism villages will be set up at select places on either side of the canal from Kovalam to Kollam.
The KWIL proposal had outlined a comprehensive development programme for the canal which had fallen into disuse in recent decades. This includes land acquisition (Rs 20 crore), cleaning of the canal (Rs 2 crore), dredging and de-siltation (Rs 5 crore), reconstruction of four bridges and construction of a new one (Rs 55 crore), bank protection at vulnerable points (Rs 5 crore), erecting navigational aids (Rs 3 crore), provision of sewage lines (Rs 50 crore) and construction jetties and canal-side amenities (Rs 10 crore).The approximate length of the state's inland navigable waterways is 1,680 km.
It includes the 590 km of the West Coast Canal from Neeleswaram to Kovalam in the South.Meanwhile, the works to remove the encroachments on the two sides of the canal have not begun yet. "Removing encroachments is not an easy task. The density of the population on either side is very high. The government has not yet decided on removing the encroachments. The canal will serve its purpose only after clearing the encroachments," said Rajendran, a social activist.