Veli-Akkulam project: Dredged silt to be removed within 6 months | Thiruvananthapuram News


Thiruvananthapuram: Nine years after Veli-Akkulam desilting project was launched, the state government has entrusted Kerala Clays and Ceramics Products Limited (KCCPL) to remove the dredged material within six months.

Dredged material measuring 3.2 lakh cubic metres was estimated to have been dumped by the backwaters following dredging over the last few years. However KCCPL MD has reported that the quantity has come down to 1 lakh cu.m as a major quantity was washed off into the backwater during showers.

The government had earlier entrusted Travancore Cements Limited with removal of dredged material and public auction of sand from one dumping yard. KCCPL has now been given the task to clear the material from five dumping yards on payment of royalty with the government.

According to documents, 2.43 lakh cu.m of silt was removed in first nine months into the launch of the project and when there was no space to deposit the silt, work was first halted in June 2011. KCCPL was summoned to deal with the issue and after dredging 94,400 cu.m of silt, again the work was stalled owing to same problem.

In 2015, the work was again stalled after the contractor reported of non-availability of land for disposal of silt.

The LDF government in 2016 came up with a proposal to revamp Veli-Akkulam project and announced that 2.35 lakh cu.m of silt needs to be further removed. The quick verification report of vigilance and anti-corruption bureau and project documents had proved that the state government embarked on the Rs 17 crore worth project to dredge nearly 7 lakh cu.m silt from Akkulam lake without having any idea where and how to dispose the huge volume of silt being dredged. QV report of VACB revealed that even the items in the schedule of works pertaining to disposal of silt had been revised.

Initially there was a plan to construct a bund using dredged material and form an island in Akkulam lake. However, this was changed to provision for having dumping yards. Six dumping yards were determined only after framing the agreement.

The project officials had admitted that no inspection was ever done to assess if the dumping yards had the capacity to hold the silt being dredged from Akkulam. Even in 2010 just before the work began, a communication was issued to director of inland navigation saying that dumping yards were insufficient, however it was ignored.

While the project envisaged removal of 6.32 lakh cu.m of silt, six dumping yards could hold only 1.3 lakh cu.m of silt. VACB had found out that the work regarding dumping yards was included in the schedule without conducting site inspection or any kind of relevant investigation which badly affected the progress of the project. The project involved attaining a depth of 2.2 m below mean sea level.

The quantity of earth to be dredged to attain this depth was fixed at 7.4 lakh cu.m. The project took off in 2010 and was set a deadline in 2011.

As per VACB report, 3,67 lakh cu.m earth was dredged till June 2016, however the project executing agencies had noted that the lake was prone to frequent flow of garbage and hence the variation in depth which should have been attained from dredging might not be there.

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