THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fast approaching monsoon coupled with the pandemic outbreak is prompting the district administration to take stringent measures to mitigate flooding in the state capital. With only a few days left for the monsoon to set in, the authorities have ordered the demolition of the bridge, the construction of which is under way across Parvathy Puthanar near Vallakadavu. The bridge is being constructed by the Public Works Department (PWD) as a temporary alternative to the upcoming permanent one there.
Even as the work was fast progressing, an order from the district administration to demolish the bridge being constructed at a cost of `70 lakh has come as a bolt from the blue for the PWD authorities. The district administration has also given strict direction to the Kerala Waterways and Infrastructure Ltd (KWIL) -- the special purpose vehicle under the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) -- to desilt the Parvathy Puthanar ahead of the monsoon.
According to the district administration, the temporary bridge made of gabion box is obstructing the flow of water in the canal which could cause flooding in the settlement areas in the vicinity of Parvathy Puthanar during the upcoming monsoon. Recently, the District Disaster Management Authority visited flood-prone areas in the city and found the bridge construction obstructing the free flow of water. The PWD authorities, who have landed in a fix following the order, claimed the bridge was designed complying with all the conditions put forward by the Irrigation Department.
“We are ready to make changes in the design to ensure that the bridge doesn’t cause any obstruction. We don’t see any flaw in our design and have given three-metre-long vertical clearance and five-metre-long horizontal clearance as per the direction from the department,” said an official of the PWD Bridges.
The official said that the department has requested the Inland Navigation Department for carrying out a joint inspection of the bridge.
“We have no idea why the district administration has come up with such a direction. There is a similar bridge across the upstream of Parvathy Puthanar and we are wondering why the authorities want the under-construction bridge to be knocked down. There is absolutely no need to demolish it. We will be submitting a report after the joint inspection,” said the official. According to PWD, the permanent bridge will take another two or three years to be completed.
“We are constructing this temporary bridge to facilitate the public movement. Land acquisition proceedings would take more time because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has sanctioned `5 crore for the project,” the official added. However, according to officials of the district administration, the construction using gabion box is going to trigger severe water-logging and flooding in the adjacent areas. Though the pre-monsoon sanitation drive was launched, it would be a challenge for the authorities to finish desilting and declogging of canals and drains before the monsoon.
An official of KWIL said that the de-silting of the canal as part of the pre-monsoon sanitation drive is fast progressing. “The quality of water has improved following the lockdown. We have covered around 4 km distance from Akkulam to Chackai and will be able to finish the cleaning work till Vallakadavu within a few days. Water weeds are the only problem now,” said an official. The official said that dumping of garbage into the canal has come down because of the lockdown. “The construction of the bridge is obstructing the movement of our equipment,” the official added. KWIL has deployed German machinery for the regular maintenance and cleaning of Parvathy Puthanar.
IN A NUTSHELL
Recently, the District Disaster Management Authority visited flood-prone areas in the city and found the bridge construction obstructing the free flow of water. However, the PWD authorities claim that the bridge was designed complying with all the conditions put forward by the Irrigation Department.