Island among the fast depleting wetlands in Kerala

If massive reclamation of land for infrastructure projects continues in Puthuvype, then the island will soon be bereft of its ecological green shield — mangroves.

A draft report of the latest State Wetlands Inventory has included Puthuvype in Ernakulam district among the fast depleting wetlands in Kerala. Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) is co-ordinating the preparation of the inventory based on the direction of the Department of Environment.

As per initial estimates, Puthuvype’s mangrove cover has come down from 314 acres to 185 acres over the last five years in the area between the LNG terminal and Goshree junction. Experts have found that rampant urbanisation has led to the depletion of one of the thickest mangrove covers in Ernakulam.

Nearly 70 acres of the mangroves were reclaimed for setting up the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and for settlements at the northern side of the campus. The study found that the 25 acres of mangroves were lost after the Cochin Port Trust carried out dredging in the region.

Development of the Goshree main road and other link roads resulted in the loss of nearly 23 acres of mangroves while another 11 acres were reclaimed for setting up the office of the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology.

Puthuvype, as per studies held by the CESS and other monitoring agencies, originally had a mangrove cover extending to nearly five sq. km.

Reclamation of the green cover for various infrastructure projects has taken a toll on the ecological balance of the region.

Experts have warned that Puthuvype’s mangrove population will come down drastically, with the setting up of the proposed Kochi Oceanarium project estimated at Rs.480 crore.

Even though the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority (KSCZMA) recently gave its green signal for the project, scientists who had expressed their dissent at the meeting pointed out that the area identified for the project falls under Zone One of the Coastal Regulation Zone.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had made it categorically clear that land reclamation, building bunds, disturbing the natural course of sea water, destruction of mangroves and construction-developmental activities were prohibited in areas falling under Zone One of the Coastal Regulation Zone, they said. Fishermen in the region had also earlier alleged that large tracts of mangroves near the LNG terminal were destroyed after waste and other byproducts of the construction work were dumped in the ecologically fragile area.

More In: Kochi