THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lockdown restrictions and pandemic containment efforts have derailed pre-monsoon sanitation drive in the capital. Almost all low-lying areas in the city were flooded in the recent incessant rain with every canal overflowing due to accumulated silt. According to officials, it wouldn’t be easy to complete the cleaning activities before monsoon sets in due to the shortage of workers
With hardly two weeks left for the monsoon to arrive, the pre-monsoon sanitation drive -- which is crucial for preventing communicable diseases and flash floods in the capital -- is progressing at a snail’s pace. The recent flooding has exposed how vulnerable the capital is to heavy showers. According to civic officials, they are saddled with multiple responsibilities as Covid-19 is raging in almost every part of the capital.
It is learnt that community kitchens, recently opened relief camps, CFLTCs and DCCs are keeping the health wing under the city corporation on their toes, which is also one reason for the slowdown in the pre-monsoon preparations. “We are not able to mobilise workers for undertaking emergency work because of the lockdown. Migrant labourers have returned to their home states. All these are affecting the pre-monsoon activities,” said a senior official of the corporation.
Though cleaning activities are ongoing to unclog the drains, there is no respite from flooding because of the silt accumulation in canals and drains. Ever since the lockdown, there has been a slowdown in the ward-level sanitation activities because of the lack of workers.
“Many workers are under quarantine and some of them have tested Covid-19 positive,” the official said. So far, around 250 sanitation workers have tested Covid positive. Though the city corporation had launched the pre-monsoon sanitation drive several weeks ago, the second wave of the pandemic had adversely affected the activities in every ward. “We kicked off the efforts in March and listed around 1,200 works. We were able to complete around 70 per cent of them in every ward. We had allotted `1.35 lakh for each ward,” said a senior official.
“We had launched `7 lakh worth of cleaning activities in the Amayizhanchan canal stretching from Thampanoor to Bakery Jn. Attakulangara -Pazhavangadi-Pattoor stretch is being cleaned right now. But silt removal is yet to happen. A recent meeting chaired by the chief secretary has assigned minor irrigation department to remove the silt from the canal,” said the corporation official.
LACK OF INTERDEPARTMENTAL COORDINATION
Lack of coordination between various departments including irrigation, NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) and public works (PWD) is the main reason for the water-logging faced by the capital. On Tuesday, the civic body convened a meeting with the various departments to expedite various cleaning activities to prepare the city to face the upcoming monsoon. “There was no representation from the PWD and NHAI.
The majority of the major roads and drains are managed by these two departments. We are not satisfied with the way they are handling the cleaning activities, especially the NHAI.
The contractors are not carting away the waste removed from the NHAI drains which again ends up in the drains creating waterlogging in the adjoining areas. We will finish our work before the monsoon but other departments should also do their job,” said the official.