Kumarakom: The shutters of the Thanneermukkom bund are being opened after being shut for several months. Fishermen in the interior areas are eagerly looking forward to the event as they expect a better catch.
Water level in the inland waterways and canals would rise when the shutters are opened and there would be natural flow of water. Moreover, all the garbage accumulated in the canals would flow away, filling the water bodies with clean water. Along with the gush of water, significant numbers of fish would be carried to the canals.
Another benefit of opening the shutters is that water having higher salinity would boost the growth of coconut trees and prevent several diseases.
The shutters, which were closed four-and-a-half months ago to enable paddy cultivation in Kuttanad, are being opened in three phases. In the first phase, 31 shutters on the Thanneermukkom side would be lifted. Subsequently, an equal number on the Ambika Market side, including ten emergency shutters, would be raised. Finally, in the third phase, 28 shutters in the middle would go up. This pattern is followed to control the flow of water to the southern side of the backwaters.
Motors are connected to each shutter and it would take little time in raising them. Moreover, generators are available in case the main electricity supply is disrupted. Earlier, when separate motors were not available, the lifting of shutters lasted a week.
However, there has been a delay in raising the shutters this year. Shutters are closed by December 15 to save the 'puncha' crop in Kuttanad from brackish water and opened after the harvest. The latter event is scheduled for March 15. But over the last few years, the lifting of shutters has taken place only by April 15. This year, there has been a further delay and the task is being carried out on May 1.
Another problem affecting the event is a sandbank near the third phase shutters. It was built in place of the third phase shutters and now sand has been removed only to a depth of 80 cm. As a part of the sandbank still remains, it would block the smooth flow of water from the northern part of the backwaters to the south.