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Proposals to improve area around canal invited as part of national competition

Much of the waterlogging in the central parts of Kochi recently was pegged on obstructions to the flow of water in the Mullassery canal, and a project to deal with the areas’ complexities has been on the anvil for some time now.

The project, to be implemented by the Kochi Corporation, in coordination with GiZ (German Agency for International Cooperation), is at a stage where design suggestions to improve the area around the canal are being invited as part of a national-level competition. Considering that the 1.3-km-long Mullassery canal connects the Perandoor canal to the backwaters, and is located within the central business district where constructions have mushroomed in the floodplains of the canal in the past few decades, resulting in waterlogging, any project to rejuvenate the canal would be a complex one, said Rajan Chedambath, director, Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (C-HED).

Besides leaving space for the natural flow of water during the monsoon, the project will also have to deal with areas where the canal has been covered with concrete. All stakeholders in the area, including colleges in the vicinity, the KSRTC bus stand, and street vendors will have to be roped in to make its implementation possible. The Jewish cemetery, a historically significant site, also lies nearby, he said. Once design suggestions are received and processed by September, the one selected for implementation could be placed before the corporation council for its approval, after which funding will have to be sought, Mr. Chedambath said. Creating accessible public spaces in the area, dealing with problems of waste finding its way into the waters, and the housing settlements by the side of the canal will all have to be factored in while preparing a plan for the canal.

“With several small drains emptying into the canal, waterlogging problems and encroachments in the area will have to be addressed. Besides, the drains near the KSRTC bus stand and the adjacent garage, where the canal begins, are all clogged,” said Mayor Soumini Jain.

“The plan focuses on recovering the beauty of the canal, getting rid of the concrete over it, and providing spaces along the canal that can be utilised by the public,” said K.V.P. Krishnakumar, councillor representing Ernakulam South.

The project has been listed in this financial year’s corporation budget, but with the local body elections due this year, the fate of the project could be uncertain once a new council takes over.

This article was first published in The Hindu on August 03, 2020. Read the full article here.

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