THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Boundary stones would be laid along the 16.4km stretch of Parvathy Puthanar canal from Kovalam to Akkulam. The project is expected to give a major boost to backwater tourism and aid smooth movement of cargo
As many as 1,500 illegal constructions including 850 houses along the 16.4km Parvathy Puthanar stretching from Kovalam to Akkulam will be demolished soon with the authorities gearing up to demarcate the boundaries of the canal which is part of the main arterial waterway in the state extending from Kovalam in the south to Bekal in the north. The plan is to widen the canal to 25 metres with a five-metre-wide service road on both sides complying with the specifications of the Inland Waterways Authority of India.
As many as 1,000 boundary stones would be laid on either side of the canal, which is being developed using KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) funding. KIIFB has sanctioned `150 crore for the project, which is being jointly implemented by the Coastal Shipping and Inland Navigation Department and Kerala Waterways Infrastructure Limited (KWIL) — a special purpose vehicle (SPV) of Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) and the state government. KIIFB has sanctioned `69 crore for the project.
A senior official associated with the project said the alignments along the stretch have been demarcated and the laying of boundary stones would kick off from next week. “Laying the boundary stones is the crucial part of the project. We had tendered the project to demarcate the boundaries multiple times in the past 18 months. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, nobody came forward to take up the work. Now we have roped in an agency to do the job. Now the casting work is fast progressing,” said the official.
Encroachments to be cleared by 2022
It is learnt that there are hundreds of encroachments along the canal and the state government has decided to execute the project with minimum evacuation. According to officials, there are numerous encroachments at Muttathara and those residing in ‘puramboke’ land would be evicted without serving notices. “We have decided to evict the families residing within the 35 metres of the project area. The state government will be giving rehabilitation for evacuated families. We have identified a few locations at Vallakkadavu, Menamkulam etc for rehabilitating the families.
The officials of KIIFB had visited the locations. There will be more discussions and the state government will be coming up with a rehabilitation package. There are government housing schemes like LIFE Mission and ‘Punargeham’ under which proper rehabilitation would be given for the evictees,” said the official. The plan is to complete the rehabilitation and land acquisition for the project by 2022.
In addition to 850 houses, there are numerous constructions along the canal by private institutions and private parties. A major hotel at Kovalam and the upcoming mall at Akkulam are among the encroachers identified by the authorities. “This is one of the top priority projects of the current government. All encroachments would be removed and land with title deeds would be acquired for the project. Once the boundary stones are laid, there will be more clarity in this regard. All private encroachments would be knocked down. The government has the power to do so,” said an official.
CLEANING ACTIVITIES TO RESUME IN FULL SWING
The pandemic had put brakes on the cleaning activities undertaken by KWIL. “We are gearing up to resume the cleaning activities after a break. The pandemic has adversely affected the activities. Now, we are hoping to continue the cleaning activities without any interruption,” said a senior official of KWIL. In an effort to curb pollution of the canal, the authorities are also planning to lay sewage lines that would be connected to the Sewage Treatment Plant at Muttathara as part of the project. The canal is expected to give a major boost to backwater tourism and cargo movements. The authorities have identified several tourist spots along the 633km West Coast Canal stretching from Kovalam to Bekal. “If all goes as planned, we will be able to make the canal navigable by 2024 and we would be able to hand over the project by 2025,” said the official. The authorities are planning to set up several amenities including cargo terminals and tourism hubs on the stretch.
C150 crore was sanctioned by KIIFB
C69 cr already allotted for the project
Eviction & Rehabilitation
1,000 boundary stones will be laid on either side of the canal
Corp will evict families residing within 35 metres of the project area
The state government will give rehabilitation for evacuated families
Locations at Vallakkadavu, Menamkulam etc picked for rehabilitating families
Housing schemes like LIFE Mission and ‘Punargeham’ will be used for rehabilitating families
The plan is to complete the rehabilitation and land acquisition by 2022