Authorities fail to remove encroachments on canals , Kochi Kerala
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Kochi: Authorities fail to remove encroachments on canals .The original plan was to evict the encroachments on the canals, rejuvenate and make them navigable. “As per a reply given by Kochi corporation authorities to my RTI application, the original width of Thevara-Perandoor canal, which is one among the six canals , was 50m to 100m. Now, the maximum width of the canal is 15m. This means rampant encroachments are there,” said K T Cheshire, RTI activist.
More than one-and-a-half year since the launch of the scheme, the project is yet to gain momentum KOCHI: Without taking measures to evict encroachments upon six major canals in Kochi , the authorities are shelling out huge amount from the public exchequer for widening these canals as part of the Rs 1,528 crore Integrated Urban Regeneration and Water Transport System (IURWTS) project. The authorities have set apart Rs 566 crore for “acquiring land” for widening the canals up to 20m while the original width of all these canals is more than this.
The original plan was to evict the encroachments on the canals, rejuvenate and make them navigable. “As per a reply given by Kochi corporation authorities to my RTI application, the original width of Thevara-Perandoor canal, which is one among the six canals , was 50m to 100m. Now, the maximum width of the canal is 15m. This means rampant encroachments are there,” said K T Cheshire, RTI activist. “Rather than evicting the encroachments, the authorities are spending a huge amount for acquiring land. Moreover, this move will legalize the encroachments. There is criminal conspiracy in this matter,” Cheshire said. “The revenue authorities with the help of the survey department should have surveyed the entire canal and holdings on either shores of the canal for identifying the encroachments. They should also have inspected the title deeds of holdings on the either side of the canal,” he said.
More than one-and-a-half year since the launch of the scheme, the project is yet to gain momentum. “The government issued administrative sanction for acquiring land for the project recently. We have sent requisition letter to the revenue department for acquiring land,” an official with Kochi Metro Rail Ltd , the nodal agency for the canal rejuvenation project, said. According to them, the amount (Rs 566 crore) is required for acquiring additional land required after evicting the encroachments.
Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) had sought clarifications pertaining to an application seeking environmental clearance for the project. Though the KCZMA allotted time for the Netherlands-based agency, which is the consultant, to make a presentation before it for clarifying doubts regarding the application at its meeting held on April 4, 2021, it had to be to be postponed as the representatives of the consultants of the project failed to turn up. “We made the presentation on July 2,” an official with the KMRL said adding that the Metro agency hadn’t got intimation regarding the meeting held in April.
The authorities also failed to complete other important paper works regarding the project. The design of the project is yet to be out. “The design is yet to get the final approval from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), which funds the project,” an official said. The failure in completing even the paper works shows the lethargic attitude of the authorities and on the part of the consultants. The major objectives of the project are beautification of the canals, making them navigable and avoiding waterlogging in the city.
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