Wetland stretches on either sides of the Vallarpadam-Kalamassery National Highway are being reclaimed mindlessly, according to a complaint.
Large-scale filling of Kochi’s backwaters on either sides of the road is taking place, said A. Ramachandran, member of the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority.
The reclamation has also led to the destruction of the inter-tidal flats and mangroves. The issue was communicated to the Executive Vice President of the Authority for action, he said.
Construction of compound walls and reclamation of land is progressing at many sites resulting in the alteration of one of the ecologically sensitive areas of the district. Backwater stretches are reclaimed using red earth at places. Construction of compound walls using concrete blocks has cut-off the holdings from the Kochi backwaters at many places. As the area dries up, mangrove vegetation in the holdings too would be destroyed, he said.
Going by the CRZ 2011 notification, the area comes under CRZ 1. Nothing shall be done in the area that hinders the tidal action. Moreover, the law forbids the alteration of natural vegetation in the region. Mangroves are protected under the Forest Act, he said.
The district administration, local bodies and law enforcement agencies were also intimated about the reclamation of backwater and destruction of mangroves. The illegal constructions and land fill also have to be removed at the earliest, Dr. Ramachandran said.
Panel to evaluate
Meanwhile, the authority is understood to have decided to appoint a four-member sub-committee to look into the issue. The panel will visit the site for evaluating the situation shortly, said a member of the committee.
At the same time, District Collector P.I. Sheik Pareeth said that the issue of reclamation had not come to his notice. Mr. Pareeth also said that he had not received any complaints regarding the reclamation.