KOCHI: The Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) has been chosen as the nodal agency to implement a Rs 1,000-crore project to clean the major canals in Kochi. Nearly 1,000 families currently living as encroachers on revenue lands alongside the banks of the canals will be rehabilitated. “The project will be implemented in four years,” said Mr Tom Jose, additional chief secretary, shipping and labour. The chief secretary is the coordinator of the project, he added. It is planned to make the canal system, one of the unique features of Kochi, into a clean and navigable water transport and leisure infrastructure, Mr Jose said.
Apart from Kochi, only Amsterdam in Holland and Venice in Italy have such unique canal systems, he said. The first major challenge will be to take the settlers on the banks of the canal into confidence by formulating a rehabilitation project. “According a survey done by us, around 1,000 families are living in encroached lands on the banks of the canal. These are similar to slum settlements. We will have to work out a rehabilitation scheme by constructing proper residential facilities for these people before undertaking the cleaning of the canals,” Mr Jose said. “We are scouting for land for the rehabilitation,” he added. The plan is to provide 500-600 sq ft residential accommodation for each family of four members, he said.
The canal system in Kochi which was earlier used for navigation and water transport in the city has been dysfunctional for many years and has turned into a public health hazard with people using it for dumping wastes and other harmful materials. The major canals in Kochi that needed urgent restoration included Thevara-Perandur, Edapally, Rameshwaram and Kalvathy. According to Mr Jose, cleansing will also involve deepening and broadening of the canals. The existing culverts and bridges failing to meet the stipulations fixed by the National Inland Waterway Authority of India will be replaced with facilities meeting the standards, he added.