Kochi may be State’s first ‘sponge city’

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The Irrigation Department is looking at Kochi as a potential candidate to be the State’s first ‘sponge city,’ a Chinese initiative designed to equip urban localities to tackle floods and harvest rainwater efficiently.

Sun Xiang, project manager, Shenzhen Water Planning and Design Institute Co. Ltd, China, is scheduled to present the sponge city concept at a two-day conference on ‘policies and strategies for flood management in Kerala’ being organised by the department here this week. He will also visit Kochi, senior Irrigation Department officials said.

Other cities too

The conference, which will discuss water resource-related issues and formulate policies, will be held on Thursday and Friday, Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty said on Monday.

”We are looking at Kochi initially. Cities such as Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram can be included in later stages,” Joshy K. A., Chief Engineer, Irrigation Design and Research Board (IDRB), said.

The concept is one of several ideas being explored to tackle floods in the State, The Dutch ‘room for river’ concept and flood-control dams are also under consideration. Kuttanad is the ideal candidate for the ‘room for river’ programme.

Paul van Meel, an expert on Integrated Water Resources Management from the Netherlands, also is scheduled to address the conference. Flood-control dams are being planned in six river basins, namely Periyar, Achencoil, Meenachil, Chaliyar, Pampa and Chalakudy.

Integrated water resources management is key to the State’s future water security and the conference will discuss the issue in detail, Mr. Krishnankutty said.

”The combined water resources of the 44 rivers in Kerala is 2,756 tmc. Resources in the catchment areas is 2,484 tmc and the volume of usable water is 1,510 tmc. By 2030 our water demand would go up by 300 tmc. At present we use only 300 tmc,” the Minister said.

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