What’s more, the road is three metres wide, while the canal’s width is only 1.5 metres.

Stuck with waterlogging a Rs 15 cr canal is adding to the woes of these Kerala residents
news Controversy Friday, July 21, 2017 - 09:23

For the people living near Kochar road in Jagathy, Thiruvananthapuram, the rains every year bring with it problems of waterlogging. And to address this, they have been demanding a proper drainage system for some time now.  

With the road being just three meters wide, a proper drainage system with a width that is proportionate to the size of the road is what they were looking for. 

To tackle the problem, the Irrigation department started constructing a canal instead in all earnestness. Furthermore, after spending Rs 1.50 crore, it now turns out that the width of the canal is only 1.5 metres.   

The local people became aware of the magnitude of the unwanted development only after the work of the canal started. The amount sanctioned for the canal was from the fund of the local MLA, VS Sivakumar, of the Congress, who is also a former minister.

“The land is under the jurisdiction of the Corporation. But the Irrigation department didn’t seek the permission of the Corporation before starting the construction of the canal, neither was any information passed on. The road is three meters wide and a 1.5-meter wide canal does not serve the purpose. The construction using JCB has instead created trouble for the people. I have spoken to the Assistant Engineer concerned of the Irrigation department many times but he was not ready to address the concerns of the local people,” Jagathy ward councillor Sheeja Madhu told The News Minute.

The residents are now faced with a white elephant. 

“The residents never demanded construction of the canal. Building a drainage system would have solved the problem. The waterlogging persisted during the rains and is not a perennial issue. I had taken up the issue with MLA VS Sivakumar, but he didn’t show any inclination to understand the problem and didn’t come to the site,” she added.

On July 18, the Councillor wrote a letter to Corporation Mayor VK Prasanth citing  lapses in the construction of the canal. "A big canal is being built on the road where only a small drainage was needed. The road was destroyed using JCB and rendered unusable. Half of the residents in the area have objected to the construction of the canal," the letter said.

The Mayor then took up the issue with the government. The Minister for Irrigation Mathew T Thomas visited the site on Wednesday and directed to stop the work after the residents also submitted a complaint. Sivakumar visited the spot on Thursday morning. It is alleged that due to the construction of the canal, the old passage that had diverted logged on the road to the Jagath river was blocked.

However,  Sivakumar said that the canal was constructed due to the general demand for that. “Only residents of three or four houses who live near the end of the road raised an objection as they fear that the wall of their houses will be damaged. I went to the place in the morning, spoke with them and assured that their concerns will be addressed. The construction was begun after conducting a feasibility study,” he said.

He added that the construction will be resumed. 

A letter submitted by some of the residents to the Irrigation minister on July 18 said, "The construction of the canal began because of the vested interests of some people. These people had blocked the passage to the Jagathy river, as they didn’t want the drainage system to pass through their houses. The waterlogging could be simply resolved by removing the block to the river. Instead more than Rs one crore is being spent on constructing the canal."

“A canal of the Irrigation department is never built on the Corporation road. What we were told is that a drainage would be built. But later on, we realised that it was a canal," a resident told the The News Minute. 

"Also the construction is so unscientific. We were told by one of the senior officers of the Irrigation department that for building a canal like this, there is no need to spend so much money. None of the officials who are part of the project turned up on Thursday even while the MLA came here," he added.

Residents of the area fear that when the canal gets built, water will be diverted from the lower level to the Kochar road which is on the upper level. "If not built properly, it would cause the opposite result. This would in turn make the waterlogging worse in the future. It will not be possible to construct any drainage system in the future," the letter said. 


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