CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a article published in The New Indian Express.

The pandemic-induced lockdown has proved to be a boon for nature with clearer skies, lower levels of air pollution and animals with a free rein. However, this can also be a time for the city to reboot, gauge its sewage system and potholed roads, provide solutions and act on the same just in time for the monsoon showers.

Over the past year, Kochi has learnt that a single shower could lead to waterlogging. Experts say the lockdown could be a boon for pre-monsoon works to be carried out efficiently and quickly. Keeping this in mind, the city corporation held a review meeting recently with stakeholders and departments concerned to commence work, comprising desilting and renovating canals along with resuming Operation Breakthrough at the earliest.

“The occasional summer showers are also likely to create waterlogging. Before these, canals have to be de-silted, bunds constructed, Operation Breakthrough restarted and the drains renovated by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation along MG Road and Banerji Road cleaned. These have not been cleaned for years owing to the tilework. Also, the KSEB area in Kaloor which was waterlogged a few months ago requires the construction of a culvert; no significant work not been done in the area yet. However, the work can begin only with adequate support from the government as the lockdown period is on,” said PM Harris, chairperson, Public Works Standing Committee.

The unavailability of contractors poses a problem, though. 
“The tendering process was completed in the review meeting; unfortunately contractors refuse to take up works. Several of them haven’t been paid for the previous work undertaken. Another round of negotiations will be done and if the problem continues, we will request a few contractors to take up the work. If desilting works aren’t completed at the earliest, Kochi will face severe waterlogging issues,” he said.

A letter has been sent to the government for work permits. “We plan to organise the migrant labourers who haven’t left the state. The District Collector, Public Works Department, National Highways Authority of India, Railway, GCDA, Kerala State Electricity Board, Kochi Metro Rail Corporation and various stakeholders must work as a team to prevent the city from coming to a halt like the last monsoon. Work must at least begin in May on a war-footing,” he added.

Chairperson of the Centre for Public Policy Research, D Dhanuraj said that as such plans require special permissions owing to the lockdown, the public could be, meanwhile, engaged in several discussions based on the city’s shortcomings via an online portal. 

“This could be taken as an opportunity to study the city before taking appropriate action. Desilting canals and clearing drains must be done scientifically. As several people remain at home, the Corporation could perhaps start a discussion portal on their website or social media handles which demand public attention,” he said.

expertspeak
According to stakeholders, there should be a move to engage public in several discussions based on the city’s shortcomings via an online portal. This could be taken as an opportunity to study the city, they say.

Talks on 
The City Corporation held a review meeting recently with stakeholders and departments concerned to commence work, comprising desilting and renovating canals along with resuming Operation Breakthrough.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on April 17, 2020. Click here to read

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