Kochi floods: Minister blames poll code for delay in pre-monsoon works

Minister P Rajeeve interacts with people of waterlogging-affected areas in Kochi on Thursday. Photo: I&PRD

Kochi: Minister for Industries P Rajeeve on Thursday said that the Edappally canal, running through the heart of the city, will be cleaned immediately in the wake of the heavy waterlogging caused by incessant rain in the past two days. Mud and algae from the water body will be removed as part of the drive which is part of disaster management measures.

The minister rubbished allegations of governmental failure in completing the works to prevent flooding in the city and claimed that the election code of conduct affected the works including pre-monsoon cleaning drive.
Edappally, one of the most busy commercial hubs in Kochi was submerged, as heavy pre-monsoon rains lashed the city on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The minister said the district collector will direct the irrigation department to commence the cleaning drive without any tender process as per the disaster management rules since the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections is in place. The work as part of the Operation Vahini will start on Friday.

"We hope that algae and the mud accumulated in the canal could be removed to a great extent. There are no drains along several parts of the road at Edappally toll. Even the existing drainage is not wide enough. The departments concerned have been instructed to clean the drainage also," the minister said.

The minister was speaking to the media after visiting the Edappally canal, different areas of Edappally and Mooleppadam in Kalamassery where heavy waterlogging and flooding were reported. He was accompanied by local representatives, officials and representatives of traders and merchants.

The minister said Mooleppadam, one of the worst affected areas, has a long history of waterlogging and the works on the national highway have intensified inundation there.

"Efforts for a permanent solution have already begun. As part of this, action has been taken to completely evacuate land encroachment in the area. Waterlogging is also severe in Pottachal area. A Rs 14.5-crore project has been submitted to the Rebuild Kerala initiative for a permanent solution. With the implementation of the project, the waterlogging there will also be solved," Rajeeve said.

He also urged the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd to find a solution if its beautification works were disrupting water flow in any area. "People's support is needed to demolish illegal constructions that obstruct the flow of water. There should also be a change in the attitude of the people regarding the disposal of waste. The minister said that 10 loads of garbage kits came out after a large wall collapsed in Kalamasery.

The minister's intervention comes amid criticism that the state government and the Kochi Corporation have failed in carrying out pre-monsoon cleaning works leading to quick flooding of the city.

Ernakulam district witnessed mild rain on Thursday. The district authorities have opened five relief camps and 116 people have been shifted to the facilities. The camps have been set up at Kakkanad MA Aboobacker School, Kalamassery VJHSS, Government LP school, Kannankulangara, Paravur, Ignatius Loyola LP School, Edapally, and Mary Matha School, Vazhakkala. Five houses have been damaged in the district in the heavy rains.

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