Our Mission


Canalpy (CanAlappuzha) is an initiative taken by the citizens of Alappuzha or Alleppey, Kerala to reclaim the canals of the town. With the tagline of “Canals are not drains”, it strives to clean, sustain and inspire the people to take care of their surroundings and make a difference to society!

The Solution

The solution to address the tragedy of commons problem is not top down regulation or policing by the state. There are positive examples where community has come together and decided to make social regulations to govern such common resources. The best examples are the groundwater governance practiced in Ralegaon Siddhi , Hiwre Bazar , Pani Panchayat experiments in Maharashtra. 

For all this the following are the requirements:

  • Awareness and a good understanding of solid and liquid wastes generated. 
  • Consensus building that this is a social issue and not the issue of the municipality. The citizens have the responsibility to make municipality accountable and we have to think of ways in which the consensus for social regulation can emerge.  
  • Awareness should transform into deeper behavioral changes, with people actively cooperating together to keep their canals clean.
  • Motivate through incentives: What could be the incentives to keep the canal clean.  
  • Making shopkeepers, company employees on both sides of the canal, partners in the cleaning drive. 
  • Students act as sanitation warriors, who keep turns to educate the older generation on the need for a pollution free canal that they are going to inherit from the older generation. 


In the 1960’s, ecologist Garrett Hardin came up with the idea that as the human population increases, the pressure on finite resources will increase and will result in overexploitation. He termed this phenomena ‘the tragedy of commons’ which means that as our population rises there will be increased strain on limited resources, which jeopardizes sustainability.

In Alappuzha, canals are the best example of commons- a resource shared by all. But over the last few decades, we see that the canals are being polluted due to dumping solid waste and indiscriminate liquid waste discharge. 

This is the typical tragedy of commons problem, which Hardin had come up with, where there is no incentive for the individual to keep the canals and ground water clean, since nobody else is involved in that. However if any personal sacrifices like investing in better sanitation/solid waste management options can lead to a better environment which can bring rewards to all. 

Who can apply?

Master/Bachelor students enrolled in Civil/Environmental Engineering/ Social Sciences/Urban Planning/Architecture can apply. Bachelor students must have completed 6 semesters by May 2018.

key objectives

  • To train participants on smart tools (mobile apps such as ODK collect) to collect data on water, sanitation and solid waste management services, infrastructure, and practices to be used for participatory survey.
  • To carry out socio-economic household survey using smart tools.
  • To identify and prioritize issues for future policy, social and technological interventions.
  • To provide exposure to students through daily lecture series.


Inspired by the success of first Winter School-2017, IIT Bombay, KILA and CUCEK are conducting a Summer School in May, 2018 in Alappuzha. The aim of the upcoming Summer School-2018 is to provide a platform to participating students to interact with and learn from the experts, peers, practitioners and local people ; and to go beyond classroom learning in order to understand the complexities of water and sanitation issues in managing the urban commons (canals) of Alappuzha.


  • Town generates about 75 ton/day of solid waste
  • Major contributors are market, abattoir and households
  • Currently there is no provision of door to door collection. Households have to segregate the waste and deposit the waste to decentralised aerobic composting units
  • Rest of the uncollected waste end up into vacant public land, roads, canal and backwaters and thus, causing pollution
  • The town has recently won the recognition from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) along with three other cities in Asia and Europe.


  • Liquid waste from kitchen, bathroom, toilets coming from households, commercial and institutional establishment is currently not managed scientifically
  • Town lacks conventional underground sewerage system and relies on primary kind of disposal mechanism i.e., septic tanks
  • About 83% of the households have septic tanks and other 15% leach pit type latrines
  • Majority of these systems open through perforated/ disjointed pipes (below the ground level) for absorption into the soil
  • High water table and monsoon season cause spillage/leaching from septic tanks and thus causing pollution of canals and ground
  • Canal water has been found to have high content of E-coli counts (38000 per 100ml), BOD (80mg/l), DO (5-6mg/l) and is unfit for human contact


  • Network of canals forms the backbone for drainage in the town
  • Current network of open drains is about 25 — 30km in length and is inadequate to meet the present needs of the town
  • Drains are built arbitrarily without taking into account the run off
  • Majority of drains are encroached and/or silted up as private premises & public roadside drains do not have silt traps. The flat topography (slope of ground is in the range of 0 — 15 %) is causing difficulty in free flow
  • Flat slope and high water table (3 mts. below the ground) makes the town highly susceptible to water-logging especially during monsoon


  • Main source of water is tube well treated and supplied by Kerala Water Authority (KWA)
  • KWA can meet only 50% of drinking water demand
  • About 92% of the households face scarcity issues, due to poor quality of the available water. There have been reports of fluoride, chloride, iron contamination in groundwater
  • Open wells are highly polluted due to salinity and bacterial contamination
  • The situation led to adoption of 18 Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants by the Municipality