Apartments, villas and other private buildings have come up along the bed of the nearly 7.52-km-long creek

With the increasing demand for waterfront property in Ernakulam district, encroachments have become rampant at the Kadambrayar and its adjoining wetlands.

Several apartments, villas and other private buildings have come up along the bed of the nearly 7.52 km-long creek.

Reclamation of the wetlands and the creek is commonplace at many areas along the Kadambrayar, making a mockery of the district administration’s claims of a crackdown against the encroachers.

Reduced width

A cruise down the creek from its entrance at the Kizhakambalam stretch reveals that the width of the river had reduced at areas near Pallikara, Athani, Thengodu, Thamarachal and the confluence of Kadambrayar and Chitrapuzha near Brahmapuram.

Recalling that the lack of authentic data on the actual width of the river was helping real estate developers, V. N. Sivasankara Pillai, former Director of the School of Environmental Studies who had conducted extensive studies on Kadambrayar, pointed out that reclamation of wetlands was rampant in many areas near the creek. “The big developers are confident of overcoming legal and other hurdles while buying a waterfront property or a wetland. They exploit loopholes in the existing regulations to own land,” he said.

Media house

S. Sitaraman, noted environmentalist, has alleged that the Thrikkakara municipal authorities helped a media house which allegedly encroached about 550 sq. m of the creek opposite the Kochi Corporation’s solid waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram.

“They were issued a stay after the local residents and the Kadambrayar Samrakshana Samithi complained of encroachment. But work has resumed at the site and the authorities are yet to restore the reclaimed land to its original condition,” he said.

Denying the allegation, P.A. Mohammed Ali, chairman of Thrikkakara municipality, said that the media house had encroached between five and eight metres into the creek and the stay order still stands. “We will send officials of the engineering department tomorrow to stop the work, if any,” he said.

The municipal chairman’s statement was corroborated by a police official at the Thrikkakara police station, who had visited the site following tension between property owners and local residents.

He told The Hindu that the municipality had already issued a stay but there had been no communication about it being vacated till Monday.

Local residents near Pallikara and Kakkanad pointed out that the demand for land in areas near Kadambrayar was high.

“A major chunk of the land close to the creek is owned by leading jewellery groups. This place is also one of the most sought-after investment destinations of the Malayalam film industry,” a promoter of a tourism project in Kadambrayar said.

Suggesting that a scientific study be held to ascertain the original width of the creek, Prof. Pillai and Prof. Sitaraman recommended that the authorities check further encroachments to save one of the few freshwater sources in Ernakulam district.

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