A meeting chaired by Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty at the district collectorate here on Tuesday decided to expedite the deepening and dredging of the leading channel of the Thottappally spillway.
He said that three more dredgers would be deployed by June 18. “At present, three dredgers are involved in dredging works. Three more will be deployed, which will accelerate the work and ensure the smooth flow of water,” he said.
It also decided to appoint a special officer to oversee the work.
Earlier, Mr. Krishnankutty visited Thottappally. Along with reviewing the progress of the work, he also reviewed the deepening and widening of the Thottappally pozhi. He said that the works were being carried out to minimise the severity of floods in Kuttanad.
On Monday, tension prevailed at Thottappally after residents opposed the Indian Rare Earths Ltd.’s move to set up a spiral unit to separate minerals from the sand removed. People blocked a truck and prevented the unloading of the unit parts. The protest ended after District Collector A. Alexander intervened and shifted the lorry from the coast.
Trouble has been brewing at Thottappally for some time now over mineral sand-mining. Last month, as per a State government decision, around 550 trees on a plot in the possession of the Irrigation Department close to the Thottappally pozhi had been cut down by invoking various sections under the Disaster Management Act.
According to the government, the trees were chopped to widen and deepen the mouth of the pozhi to ensure the smooth flow of water from Kuttanad through the Thottappally spillway to sea.
The government further allowed the Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) to remove sand from the pozhi and from the place where the trees stood. According to officials, the KMML has been given permission to extract two lakh cubic metre of sand. The KMML will pay ₹465 per cubic metre. However, the move has met with widespread protests, especially from fishers, who say the government move is aimed at large-scale extraction of mineral sand in the disguise of flood mitigation.
Mr. Krishnankutty said that he would apprise Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Ministers concerned of the ongoing works.