IIT proposals to check flooding in Kuttanad not feasible, claim govt officials

When a flash flood upended lives in Kuttanad. Photo: Manorama
When a flash flood upended lives in Kuttanad. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Flooding is a perennial problem plaguing the Kuttanad region of Kerala and numerous measures have been implemented over the years to solve it. The solution being planned now is ‘Room for the river’, a Dutch model, for which experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, recently submitted their final report regarding a hydrodynamic study.

However, in the latest development in the matter, the Kerala Irrigation Department has rejected most of the suggestions in the IIT report, terming them ‘impractical.’ According to government officials, the IIT team’s recommendations, if implemented, would have catastrophic consequences in Kuttanad. The report was prepared without having a proper idea of the topography of Kuttanad or the high probability of flooding in the area, officials said.

If the suggestions are followed, the situation in Kuttanad will only turn worse. Moreover, problems faced by residents of the area would aggravate, they added. Department officials have also been instructed not to leak the contents of the IIT report.

Department’s suggestion

Meanwhile, according to the Irrigation Department department’s assessment, flooding in Kuttanad could be checked by controlling the flow of water in the Pamba, Achankovil and Manimala Rivers with regulators and redirecting it to Thottappally Spillway and Kayamkulam Lake.

At the same time, the areas suggested by the IIT team to direct the water flow are impractical and would worsen the flooding, said department officials.

Similarly, the IIT report suggests relocation of local residents to implement the project. This is impossible, said the state government officials.

The department has now instructed the IIT team to make suitable changes in the suggestions and submit a revised report by December-end.

What is ‘Room for the river?’

The project was initially implemented successfully by the Netherlands government after the floods of 1995 in that country. ‘Room for the river’ ensures the safety of houses and residents during floods by providing a space for water to flow.

However, Kerala officials point out there are major geographical differences between the Netherlands and Kuttanad.

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