Kochi: A heavy deposit of silt along river beds post successive floods has resulted in Periyar becoming shallow at stretches, even threatening water transport to regions such as Mattancherry, Varappu-zha and Mulavukad in the district.
“We’ve been facing the issue mainly at times of low tides ever since August floods last year,” said M Sujith, traffic superintendent, Erna-kulam region, of State Water Transport Department (SWTD). “The issue is threatening to worsen this time post the recent deluge.”
The SWTD boat services to Mattancherry were the ones that were hit the most with rocks and sludge resulting in damage of boat propellers and radars.
“We’re not being able to operate boats to Mattancherry. The services currently terminate at embarkation (terminal) jetty. It’ll take us nearly two days and cost around Rs 20,000 to repair the boats once the alignment of the shaft is affected. We’ve given a letter to the irrigation department and also held a joint inspection with them for dredging the affected stretches,” the official said.
The department conducts 25 trips to Mattancherry daily, mainly catering to office-goers and tourists. A recent study using ecosounder found the depth at Mattancherry jetty and near-by regions only 1.5 metres.
“Our boats with 100 passenger capacity need at least 2.5 metres depth for operation. Many private boats, though, can be operated as they are made of fibre and hence light-weight,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minor Irrigation department would undertake works on a war-footing to increase depths of boat jetties.
“The priority is for Mattancherry jetty though others jetties at Varappuzha, Kothad, Thevara, Nettoor and Kumbalam among others will be dredged to increase depth. We’ll submit another major project to rebuild Mattancherry boat jetty so as to facilitate anchoring of big boats like ‘Vega 120’,” said another official.