Congress leader and former minister, V M Sudheeran has called for setting up Task Forces at the district level for effective implementation of the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wet Land Act.

Inaugurating the workshop on ‘Kerala’s Food Security and Conservation of Vembanad Lake’ here on Saturday, Mr. Sudheeran said these task forces should consist of committed officials from Departments of Agriculture, Revenue, Registration AND Environment and also representatives of the environment activists. The works of these bodies should be coordinated by a Monitoring Committee at the State level, he said.

According Mr Sudheeran, the Act was one of the finest pieces of legislation, but its success lie heavily on the effective implementation of its provisions. This needs constant monitoring by efficient officials with the active support of concerned citizens. He would take up the matter with chief minister soon, he said.

The Congress leader said that paddy lands and wetlands in the State are under threat from land sharks who had entered the arena with the only intention making quick money. Almost all water bodies, whether it was river or lake, are dying and it needs immediate attention of all concerned to correct the priorities. “Today environmental issues get the lowest priority with the decision makers and opinion makers,” he said. While the chief minister was taking steps within his constraints to hold the land sharks at bay, there were more powerful lobbies working to help these vested interests.

Mr Sudheeran pointed out that the key to effective fight against such elements was creation of public opinion which according to him was the most potent tool in a democratic polity. In spite of the otherwise gloomy situation prevailing in the State on the environmental front, one silver lining was the fact that environmental issues have been taken up by politicians at the grass roots level. The recent flare up against major projects at various parts in the State points to this growing awareness among the affected people on the issue, he said.

The Metran Kayal issue too points to the emergence of an effect resistance movement against massive projects that directly degrade ecology, he said and added that this was a living example that could be replicated elsewhere in the State.

Mr V S Vijayan, former chairman, Kerala Biodiversity Board, presided over the function. P Prasad, environmental activist, S Jishnu of Kumarakom Nature Club, Rohini Vijayan and others spoke on the occasion.

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