After Yusuffali’s mall blocks drainage in Kerala village, residents force action

The parking ground of Y Mall, a retail offering of Lulu Group in MA Yusuffali’s village of Thriprayar in Thrissur, was hindering the free flow of water from a canal.
After Yusuffali’s mall blocks drainage in Kerala village, residents force action
After Yusuffali’s mall blocks drainage in Kerala village, residents force action
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On August 11, there was a huge gathering of people in the parking ground of Y Mall, a retail offering of MA Yusuffali’s Lulu Group, located in his village of Thriprayar in Thrissur. The people gathered there were not shoppers but residents who had come in plain clothes to oversee the demolition of a portion of the sprawling parking ground of the mall.

A stretch of the mall’s parking ground has been hindering the free flow of an open water canal called the Angadi Thodu. During monsoons, the Angadi Thodu collects the excess water and drains it into the main river, Canoli Canal. With the construction of the parking ground, which is at the rear end of the mall, the flow of water in the canal has been majorly disrupted, allege residents.

As a result, with the heavy rains lashing Thrissur in the first week of August, areas around the parking ground were flooded, including houses and Thriprayar Indoor Stadium.

Rakesh Shankar, a resident of Thriprayar, had to evacuate his house near the mall when the water entered his house. The floodwater destroyed his furniture and electronic appliances. Rakesh and his family moved to a relief camp on August 9.

The construction of the mall started about four years ago and was opened to the public on 29 December 2018. “The village officials gave the Lulu Group permission to construct the parking ground with the clause the latter maintain the canal, which runs along the ground. And so, during the course of the construction of the ground, we did not suspect anything. Besides, like any other construction site, the area was enclosed from all four sides,” Rakesh tells TNM as he was cleaning his house after the floods.

The parking area was almost complete in 2018, the year that Kerala saw one of its worst floods in a century. Due to the heavy rains and opening of dams, Thriprayar village witnessed its first floods then. The Angadi Thodu canal was overflowing.

Rakesh alleges the canal was being blocked near the mall’s then yet-to-be-opened parking ground and even complained to the village officials.

“Even before other parts of Kerala were flooded, water started rising in our villages. However, then we were told that the Canoli Canal was flowing in full spate. Once the mall was opened, we even inspected the parking ground and found that the open canal was neatly covered in concrete slabs, with a wall erected over it,” says Rakesh.

“A 5.5 feet wide canal was reduced to 1.1 feet diameter. This reduced the flow of water on a massive scale,” alleges Vinu Mohanan, a resident of Thriprayar.

Despite giving numerous complaints to the village officials, residents say, nothing significant transpired.

In August this year, when the rains and subsequent flooding displaced many people in the area, a group of residents met the village officials again on August 10, but it did not yield any results.

Rakesh, along with other residents, reached the parking ground on August 11 around 10 am to protest. “Around 11.30 am, the village officials reached the spot. We said that if they did not take action and demolish the portion that was covering the canal, we would block the national highway (NH 66 or Panvel-Kochi-Kanyakumari highway) in front of Y Mall. That’s when the officials relented, hired an earth-digger and started excavating the passage,” says Rakesh.

Meanwhile, Vinu P, Nattika Grama Panchayat President, confirmed to TNM that the mall violated the terms it agreed upon. “We had given the mall a prior notice to only put a slab over the canal to ensure the water course. Instead, they covered the canal and just put a pipe through it,” she says. 

According to Vinu, once the area started flooding again, the village officials, including Panchayat Secretary and other members, met the mall officials and gave them a notice stating they are going to demolish the portion of the ground. “We reached on Sunday to demolish and that’s when the residents gathered,” she states. 

Lulu Group’s Y Mall is spread across 4.6 acres of land in Thrissur. When the mall was opened, Yusuffali gave a major portion of its profits towards the development of various institutions in his village Thriprayar, including a mosque, temples and church, and for other charitable work. He even gave jobs to the people in his village and the neighbouring areas. 

And in 2018, during the floods, the UAE-based businessman donated Rs 80 million to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF) during the 2018 floods and Rs 50 million this year.

While two-thirds of the ground has been demolished, the mall officials have been directed to line and put a slab over the canal once the rains abate completely, says Vinu. 


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