Alappuzha: R. Block residents are bearing the brunt of the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) cutting short Alappuzha- Kanjiram boat service, their only link to the outer world. For the last couple of weeks, they find no way to connect to Kanjiram from where they get potable water, LPG and sundry materials daily.
It will hit schoolchildren hard if the situation continues. R. Block is one of the remotest places in Kuttanad where only 24 families now live.
The disruption came when they were limping back from the scars of the devastating floods last year. They say the boat services were regularly getting disrupted since March while the public exams were going on.
The boat service got disrupted due to the explosion of salvinia on the route. Following protests, the authorities removed the salvinia and resumed the service. After that, they lost their interest to clear the way.
Ansya Gopi, a resident, says the Alappuzha- Kanjiram boat service which passes R.Block at 11.30 am nowadays ends at Krishnankutty Moola.
It will be half an hour boat journey to reach Kanjiram, which is in Kottayam district.
“We used to depend on this service to go to Kanjiram from where we transported drinking water, LPG and groceries," she said.
“Now we need to hire boats spending at least `200.."
She also pointed out that they had another boat operated on the Alappuzha- Kottayam route.
“The timing of the boat at R.Block was 7.30 am which our children depended on going to school in Kanjiram. Now we have no idea when it will resume,” she laments.
The SWTD had changed the route since the thick blanket of weeds stuck sailing of boats in the stretch.
SWTD director Shaji V. Nair said it’s the local bodies which have to take steps to clear the way.
“The water level is low in the river. It will damage the boat,” he said.
Kottayam collector P.K. Sudheer Babu said steps would be taken to get the issue resolved at earliest.
“We had brought in a machine to clear weeds,” he told DC.
“But the removal works suspended after it developed glitches. Usually, the weeds in the river would be destroyed by the intrusion of brackish water once the Thanneermukkom bund reopens. Now it is opened.”
Apart from the clearing of weeds with hidden debris and plastic wastes, there is an urgent need to deepen stretches of the route.