Kochi: The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) was forced to short terminate many services to destinations like Mattan-cherry and Varappuzha after water level in the Kochi backwaters dipped alarmingly.
“This is for the first time we’re experiencing such a situation. The water level at Ernakulam Jetty is currently four-feet down from platform. In normal condition, this will be only one feet. The commuters are finding it very difficult to board and alight from boats,” Traffic Superintendent M Sujith told DC.
The SWTD is currently operating its boats only upto Terminal jetty as boats can’t anchor there due to the low water level. Similar is the case with Varappuzha jetty where several sand beds are visible with the water level dropping.
“The propellers of the boats such as S-28 got damaged after hitting the river bed. The situation is like this for the last over a week. The water from the backwaters drains into the sea during low tide while the water flowing from rivers too are of small quantity,” the official said.
After the deluge, the state, especially the flood-hit areas, is experiencing severe drought-like situation with water level in Periyar and wells in the region dipping alarmingly. The situation forced the authorities to close all shutters of Purappal-likkavu and Pathalam regulators so that drinking water supply to Greater Kochi region wouldn’t get affected.
“Currently we’re at the brim and there is just enough water for drinking water supply. The water from the Lower Valley still flows into Periyar and when it stops, it will be difficult to manage. As of today, both the river and sea level are the same and any further drop of water level would seriously affect water supply,” a senior KWA official said.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the shutters of Bhoothathankettu dam will be closed soon to divert water to Left Bank canal, where the water authority has schemes such as irrigation and recharge wells. If the recouping of water wouldn’t take place, the inflow will reduce and water level will further dip in the Periyar river. According to officials, the current crisis can be resolved only by opening shutters of the Idamalayar dam.