The pond and rainwater harvesting project of Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) has got stuck in the ‘rock’ after the contractor stopped work on finding boulders that need to blasted if they are to dig any further for water.
The much hyped project was to be ready by this monsoon season which would have ensured that there would be no water shortage next summer at the campus.
But now the semi dug pond is filled with nearly three-fourths of rainwater but of no use. The work can only be continued after the entire water is drained and the hard laterite layer removed.
The university, which is facing a huge financial crisis, had proposed the project to counter acute water shortage and huge expenditure incurred on water supplied by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).
When contacted, officials of the engineering department said that the contractor had hit hard laterite surface. “We will have to re-estimate the contract which did not account for the hard laterite,” an official said.
According to university sources, a two-tier contract has to be signed if blasting of underground rocks is also required while digging wells. “However, in this case, only a one-tier agreement has been signed.”
The Cusat students’ union is up in arms against the way the entire project has been handled. “We have a geology department and its head is also the Registrar. Yet the authorities did not account for the possibility of hard rocks being present right below the soil,” said Sreehari Laxmanan, chairman, Cusat union.
The students say that several the residents, who are staying down in the colony below the project area, have already raised apprehension about the water overflowing from the semi dug pond into their homes when the rains get heavy.
“Normally, when a well is dug, it has to be completed well before the rains. But this is an example of how badly planned the project is,” said another union member.
The new member in CUSAT family. 1.5 crore valued water reservoir. http://t.co/arxdXv7vYQ
— CusatXpress (@CusatianXpress) June 17, 2014
Geologists say that finding hard laterite layer is nothing new in this side of the city. “Hard laterites are sources of fresh water and that’s why the groundwater on the Kakkanad side of the city is good. In Edapally belt, you can’t use the water for drinking,” said C G Nambiar, professor, department of marine geology, Cusat. He said that the university does seek the opinion of the department in case of large projects, but they had not held any discussions on this pond project. [blockquote source=”he added”]”They may have contacted the groundwater department,[/blockquote]
However, Cusat registrar K Sajan denied the allegations that the work has been stopped completely. “We don’t need to revise the contract. We had consulted the chief hydrologist of the groundwater department. We will have to remove the boulders after clearing the water. That can be done only after the rains.”
He said that the project was started in February-March, but by the time the boulders were noticed, the monsoon had set in forcing them to stop work.