The irrigation wing of the Water Resources Department has started demolishing the earthen embankment in the middle of the backwater as part of the third phase of construction of the Thanneermukkom bund.

The third phase of construction, which commenced in September 2014, will replace the embankment in the middle by 28 steel shutters. “We have started removing the earth on a small scale. The contractor has sought three months’ time to complete the process,” said an official.

The Thanneermukkom grama panchayat has made a claim over the 1.5 lakh cubic metres of earth to be removed as part of the demolition of the embankment, which resulted in a stand-off between the local body and the contractor. Officials said the earth would be kept at a nearby site until a final decision was taken on the matter. Meanwhile, the traffic on the Thanneermukkom road will be restricted between 7 p.m. on Sunday and 7 a.m. on Monday to complete the approach road on one side of the bridge. The third phase of the bund is almost complete, except for some electrical work. It is likely to be made operational in two months.

The bund across the Vembanad lake, proposed to keep the water balance and prevent intrusion of salt water into Kuttanad, was designed by the Central Water and Power Research Station in 1956.

The first and second phases were completed in 1965 and 1975.

The barrage was made operational in 1976.

Once completed, the Thanneermukkom bund, with a span of 1,410 metres, will have 90 shutters, including 31 each on the western and eastern sides.

The third phase is being constructed at a cost of Rs. 252 crore.

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