Supreme Court had recently ordered demolition of Mazhavil restaurant

The Mazhavil restaurant, Aluva, has caused an ecological loss to the tune of Rs. 1.30 crore on a range of counts, ecologists have estimated.

The polluters will be personally made liable for the pollution of the river and ecosystem and the cost should be recovered from them, said S. Sitaraman, former secretary of the Association for Environment Protection, Aluva.

Conservationists have estimated that the hotel, which the Supreme Court had recently ordered to be pulled down, polluted the environment on at least five counts, including drinking water pollution. A petition would be moved for recovering the damages from the government officials and the local bodies too who were duty-bound to protect the environment, he said. The authorities reclaimed around one acre land using red earth after razing hillocks.

The reclamation required around Rs. 12.5 lakh. The razing of the hillock would have left serious ecological impacts in the area in which it was situated, including the reduced availability of drinking water, said Prof. Sitaraman.

Air pollution

The transportation of the red earth to the construction site contributed to the air pollution and consumption of fuel for constructing an illegal structure. The building was constructed spending around Rs. 56 lakh.

The authorities went ahead with the construction of the building ignoring the warnings that it was violating all environmental guidelines, he said. The demolition of the building would cost another Rs. 5.5 lakh and the transportation of the debris after the demolition of the building would requite Rs. 3.6 lakh, he said listing out the cost of pollution.

Faecal contamination and discharge of other pollutants to the waterbody, which was the source of drinking water for a large number of people, also need to be accounted for while estimating the ecological loss.

The focus was on the harm the construction had caused and the demolition will leave on the ecosystem, said Mr. Sitaraman.

The District Collector will be made primarily responsible for the loss as he was the chairman of the District Tourism Promotion Council, which constructed the building. Besides applying the polluter-pay principle for recovering the damages, the government would be held responsible for the loss caused by its officials to the exchequer, said Sivan Madathil, the lawyer who represented the petitioner in the Supreme Court.

According to Mr. Madathil, the construction of the building eventually led to the change in course of the river.

The Aluva municipality will also be asked to compensate for the ecological damage as the local body had issued no-objection certificate for the building. The Supreme Court and other courts had allotted compensations on number of other petitions seeking damages for the ecological losses caused by the polluters, he said.

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