THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The heavy rain that lashed the city for hours on Tuesday evening left its vulnerable spots submerged yet again. The irrigation dept and corporation haven’t done much to end the perennial bane of the city despite tall claims. Will authorities launch Operation Anantha Phase 2 at least now?
The unexpected heavy rain that lasted for hours from Tuesday evening caught the capital off guard submerging almost all low-lying areas, leaving the commuters and motorists stranded. Thampanoor, which is infamous for flooding, faced one of the worst in recent times on Tuesday. Though the pre-monsoon drive was launched last month, the isolated heavy rain exposed how vulnerable and ill-prepared the city is to face floods.
The lockdown restrictions turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the authorities as the number of people stranded and needing rescue was very less.It took several hours for the corporation authorities, fire department and district disaster management authority to clear water from critical areas in the city. The fire officials and the civil defence team under the DDMA (District Disaster Management Authority) had to work for several hours to unclog the stormwater drains to make the flood water recede. At Thampanoor, the water level rose several feet and the authorities had to rescue a few of the stranded commuters.
The pre-monsoon sanitation drive launched by the civic body turned out to be an election stunt as, apart from superficial cleaning, the departments involved had done nothing. “We have suspended all routine work for the day and have directed our sanitation workers to de-clog stormwater drains. Yesterday’s was the first heavy rain in recent times and the city is prone to flooding. Normally, low-lying areas face flooding. We have decided to hire more motors to pump out water as we have only three pump sets,” said a top official of the city corporation.
A senior official of the revenue department said water levels have receded in many parts and there are no injuries or deaths. “We had housed around 197 destitute at Attakulangara school in the wake of the Covid threat. There was flooding in the school and East Fort area and we had to shift them to SMV School. The irrigation department is doing emergency work now,” said the official.
OPERATION ANANTHA PHASE II ON PAPER
The flooding at Thampanoor on Tuesday has once again drawn the urgent attention of the authorities to the need towards initiate steps to launch phase II of Operation Anantha, the flood mitigation project launched by former chief secretary Jiji Thompson back in 2015. The project resolved the infamous flooding issue in the Thampanoor-East Fort region to some extent. However, the need for phase II arises as the area has started facing flood again. A slew of follow-up works were recommended in phase II. The authorities had warned then that if follow-up works were not undertaken, flooding would occur again. It’s been more than five years and the district administration and the city corporation have taken no step to implement phase II.
RAJAJI NAGAR FLOODED, RESIDENTS BLAME IRRIGATION DEPT, CORPORATION
As many as 100 houses at Rajaji Nagar were submerged in floodwater as severely clogged Pazhavangadi Thodu and other stormwater drains overflowed. According to officials, the families were affected severely. Thampanoor ward councillor C Harikumar said as many as 100 houses in the colony were hit. “Electronic devices and other properties inside these homes have been damaged and the revenue authorities will be assessing the losses. The entire garbage from the Amayizhanchan Canal overflowed and now the garbage is scattered everywhere. Efforts are on to clean up the mess,” said Harikumar. He alleged that the apathy on the part of the irrigation department is the reason for the flooding.
“The canal is filled with five- to six-foot-deep silt and removing it is the only way to ensure the smooth flow of stormwater. The civic body has been seeking permission from the irrigation department to remove the silt. We have the machinery and resources to carry out the work but, unfortunately, the irrigation department is not very keen. Now they want the civic body to deposit the fund with them to carry out desilting work,” alleged Harikumar.
A senior official of the irrigation Department said emergency work is progressing in many parts. The effort of the department to carry out cleaning activities on the Kannamoola-Akkulam stretch of the canal has failed. “We have tendered the work three times already but the contractors are quoting more and the government hasn’t given approval. The last contractor has quoted 35 per cent more amount. Hence, we are going to float the tender for the fourth time,” said the official.