KCZMA directs Ernakulam district administration to act on complaints

The Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) has intervened to check the destruction of mangroves in the coastal belt of Kochi. The authority has directed the Ernakulam district administration to act on complaints in this regard.

There have been reports of large-scale destruction of mangroves in many parts of Vypeen and Mulavukad. Mangroves that dot the areas near Kochi backwaters are being destroyed by the dumping of slurry and domestic waste on them.

The trees dried up after being covered by domestic waste and refuse from construction sites, said A. Ramachandran, member of the KCZMA.

According to Mr. Ramachandran, illegal reclamation of the wetlands was in progress in many parts of Kochi backwaters. The extent of destruction of mangroves and wetlands and reclamation could be assessed by comparing the Google map images of the areas in 2007 and 2013.

It is suspected that silt and other sediments collected during the dredging of shipping channels are dumped on mangrove vegetation. Red earth and sand that has piled up on the flanks of the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) road at Vallarpadam are also reaching the backwaters. It had resulted in the formation of sediment deposits in the lake, said Mr. Ramachandran.

It was on the basis of Mr. Ramachandran’s complaint that the authority directed the district administration to take steps to check the destruction of mangroves. The KCZMA member said the district authorities had failed to demolish the illegally constructed compound walls on the banks of the Kochi backwaters adjoining the ICTT road.

Charles George, State president of Matsya Thozhilai Aikya Vedi, said mangroves were being systematically destructed in Vypeen by the dumping of a mixture of slurry and chemicals in the area.

Destruction of large tracts of mangroves was one of the biggest ecological disasters that have happened near the LNG terminal in Kochi. Even now, mangroves were being destroyed along the ICTT road. The livelihood of traditional fishermen was affected as mangroves were the breeding grounds of a large number of fish species, said Mr. George

Ernakulam District Collector M.G. Rajamanickam said action would be taken to prevent the destruction of mangroves.

On a complaint that mangroves were being destructed on holdings owned by the Cochin Port Trust, the Trust authorities clarified that it had not happened on their premises. The Trust authorities were directed to furnish a written reply on the issue, Mr. Rajamanickam said.

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