Ignatius Pereira, The Hindu, 27 Nov 2006
|Lack of land to dispose of dredged material hampering work|
ROUTE TO PROGRESS: A view of the inland channel that is being developed as the Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway 111.
KOLLAM: When the Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway (NW)-111 is commissioned in June next, as announced by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at a press conference here on Saturday, nine-tonne cargo vessels would be able to cruise the channel from Kollam to the Cochin port. The cargo identified for transportation through the NW-111 are cashew kernels, mineral sand, general goods and coir. The NW 111 forms part of the 590-km Kovalam-Nileswaram Smart Waterway. The 79-km Kovalam to Kollam section and the 348-km Kottapuram to Nileswaram section will be the State waterway stretch of the Smart Waterway. The Kollam-Kottapuram NW 111 section of Smart Waterway covers a distance of 168 km.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will develop the channel earmarked for the purpose. In a statement, the IWAI said the major works on NW-111 that remain to be completed are in the Kollam-Alappuzha section. This section of the channel has canals with some portions predominantly narrow.
These have to be widened to provide double lane navigation of cargo vessels. For the purpose, the channel dimension should be of minimum bottom width of 32 metres and depth of 2 metres. An estimated 21.25 hectares of land has been acquired by the IWAI in Kollam and Alappuzha districts for the purpose.
The statement says an estimated 8.5 lakh cubic metres of dredging is yet to be carried out along the canal portion between Alappuzha and Kollam districts, besides an equal quantity of excavation in the acquired land for widening the canal.
Disposal of dredged material is posing a problem. The presence of large areas of paddy fields and weak bunds in Kuttanad also pose difficulties to the efficient operation of the dredging machinery.
In areas earmarked for widening of the canal, it has been proposed to carry out the necessary protection of the banks. In the thickly populated Thottapally-Kayamkulam-Kollam sections, adequate land area for disposing of the dredged material is not available. The existence of Chinese and stake fishing nets along the channel has also affected the dredging operations. The statement says these issues alone have caused considerable delay in the execution of the NW development works.
But along the 2-km. section of the canal adjacent to the public sector Indian Rare Earths Ltd. unit at Chavara and the 1.8-km. stretch adjacent to the mineral separation plant of the public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd., it has been decided to undertake the deepening and widening operations with the cooperation of these two companies.
The sand in these areas contains mineral deposits and is useful raw material for both the companies. Hence, the dredging working along this 3.8-km. stretch is being carried out by these companies. Protection of the eastern banks of this section of the canal has been identified as a requirement and the same is proposed to be provided with Central funding. The work will be executed by the Irrigation Department of the State.
On completion of the developmental activities, regular barge services between Kochi and Chavara will become feasible in the next six months, it is expected. This will be subsequently extended to Kollam.
A view of the inland channel that is being developed as the Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway 111.