The Cochin International Airport Ltd’s (Cial) plan to set up solar panels at Chengalthodu canal to power its latest international terminal (T3) has met a roadblock after a local union opposed the move. The 18-km-long canal runs through the Cial’s property. As per the plan, solar panels would be placed above the canal surface on pillars which run into the canal’s dried-up bedding. The work to place the panels has been completed for around 2km. “We only found out when 70% percent of their work had been completed. If this solar operation is actualised, then it will affect water supply to Nedumbassery and Chengamanad. It will negatively affect farmers working in the area,” said E M Saleem, a member of the local Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union.
He said they have met chief minister and district collector and expressed their concerns over the matter, and they were currently looking into the issue. “The pillars will not block water flow. Even Cial has a vested interest in ensuring that the canal functions properly as if it does not, the Cial facility will be flooded,” said airport director Chandrakumaran Nair A. Solar panels across the canal’s stretch were intended to generate 6MW of power. “We have panels with us but we have not been able to use it so far,” he said. A K Thomas, CPM local committee president from Nedumbassery, alleged that there had been no water shortage in the locality before the Cial had diverted the canal a few years ago. Cial authorities are currently holding talks with local authorities to resume the project.