The presence of 18 canals flowing through Kochi is what differentiates it from other cities in Kerala. Once considered the city’s lifelines, it was not unusual to be greeted by the sight of locals fishing, or even journeying through them on country-made boats.
Fast forward to the present….natives find it difficult to even walk -much less travel- along the banks of these canals, which have now turned into huge stinking garbage channels that make one want to gag.
Kochi has literally turned into one big stink-area with its canals emanating noxious odours. Name any canal, be it Mullassery, Thevara, Perandoor, Karanakkodamthodu, Koitharathodu, Edappallythodu, Poornipuzha, Changadampokthodu, Khareethodu or the Punchathodu – all of them are polluted to the core.
Most of them have long stopped flowing, with its dirtied stagnant water left bereft of life.
Speaking to The News Minute, Professor Sunny George -director of SCMS Water Institute- attributes the present condition solely to urban waste:
“The waste from restaurants, malls, nearby houses, fish-markets and even hospitals mostly flow into these canals. In our study, we have found the presence of even toilet waste in them. Several septic tank pipes were found directly attached to the Perandoor canal in Thevara.
Lorries carrying septic waste too dump their contents into these canals. Slaughter house-waste too is no exception.”
Those who are unfortunate enough to have shopping establishments somewhere close to these floating piles of city waste are torn between wanting to continue with business and fleeing for health reasons. The stench is simply unbearable.
Harikrishnan, who runs a shop near the Edapallythodu says business has taken a severe hit, as people rarely venture to his shop, the foul smell acting a deterrent. He is desperately looking to move elsewhere.
Earlier, the Kochi Corporation was mulling over a water-transport project through these canals in order to ease the traffic woes of the already congested lanes of the city. But the proposal had to be dropped, as the water was too polluted for the purpose.
“Unscientific rapid urbanisation is the main reason for such a pathetic state of affairs. Hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) in the canals has left all the fish dead. The canals per se also cannot survive the onslaught of developmental construction along the banks,” says environmental activist Advocate Charles George.
These canals have also turned breeding grounds for mosquitoes making it worse for the locals. The burgeoning waste in them has already made these the perfect source for the spread of contagious diseases.
Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain however insists that the Corporation has already initiated measures for the ecological restoration of the 18-canal network.