KOCHI: On November last year, the state government made dumping of waste in the Thevara-Perandoor canal a punishable offence following a High Court order. In the months since, nothing much has changed as dumping of waste in the canal continues unabated. While the Kochi Corporation began fencing work along the banks of the water body, confusion over its boundary is delaying the work.
“The 10.5km-long canal was once the lifeline of the city. However, rapid urbanisation and encroachments have eaten into it, drastically reducing its width at many places,” said an official with the corporation. It also lacks a definite boundary and at many places and there is no retaining wall, he said.
“This is hindering the fencing work, being carried out as part of the Centre’s AMRUT (Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation) project,” said the official. He said fencing work was over on the canal’s Thevara stretch and several places towards Kaloor. “This was possible as survey in the areas was over. However, it is yet to be carried out on the stretch between Kaloor and Perandoor. We have sent a letter in this regard to the District Collector and the departments concerned,” he said.
Mathew G, a resident, said the survey should be carried out at the earliest, as fencing is easier at places where there are retaining walls. At some places, the retaining wall also needs to be built, he said.
“Once the canal is fenced, the rampant dumping of waste will hopefully come down. However, the work is happening in fits and starts. It will be monsoon soon and the scenario which we see during every rainy season will repeat itself,” he said.
Mathew said canal also needs to be desilted. “However, the Corporation should not dump the silt along the canal’s banks,” he said. He also said the absence of retaining walls would lead to the banks collapsing,” he said. Mathew said besides fencing, measures like installation of CCTV cameras and constant monitoring need to be taken to prevent dumping of waste.
The corporation official said retaining walls were being built along with the fencing work. Concrete piling work is going on some stretches at Thevara, he said. “Once fencing is done, CCTV cameras will be installed. Notice boards informing fly-tippers of the penalties they will face for dumping waste in the canal are being fixed,” he said. The official said notices as per the HC order had been served on people, apartments, hostels and hotels that had routed their septic pipes into the canals. “Also, many such pipes get covered and blocked during the construction of the retaining walls,” he said.
Health standing committee chairperson of the corporation Pratibha Ansari said the civic body was taking strict action against offenders. “For violations we came across, notices were served on offenders and drains blocked,” Pratibha said.
The High Court had, last year, directed the state government to issue an order banning the dumping of garbage and other waste into Perandoor canal. It also asked the state government to publish the order in newspapers so that the residents knew the act was punishable. It had ordered placing boards containing the gist of the government order along the banks of the canal to alert the public against dumping of waste. It had observed that the water body had turned into a sewage canal endangering all residents of the city, contaminating groundwater and drinking water sources, and was a disaster waiting to happen. People had forgotten that the canal was once a freshwater stream, the court had said.
Taking strict action
Health standing committee chairperson of the corporation Pratibha Ansari said the civic body was taking strict action against offenders.
What residents say
According to the residents, besides fencing, measures like installation of CCTV cameras and constant monitoring need to be taken to prevent dumping of waste. The canal also needs to be desilted. However, the Corporation should not dump the silt along the canal’s banks. Also, the absence of retaining walls would lead to the banks collapsing.