It’s been all most five months since the district panchayat revealed its ambitious plan to restore the beleaguered Vellayani Lake into a fresh water body to help revive agriculture activity in the nearby areas and mitigate the drinking water problem in Thiruvananthapuram. But the project still remains on paper.

As early as in April, the district panchayat unveiled its plan to revive the lake after the Department of Environment and Climate Change agreed to disburse financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 49.4 lakh for the restoration work.

The revival plan, as recommended by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, was discussed at a meeting of representatives of various government departments, panchayats and non-governmental organisations on April 25.

The meeting had set a deadline of two weeks for the departments to prepare an action plan and to conduct a survey to demarcate the lake’s boundary.

The delay in particularly starting the survey had not gone down well with the representatives of the district panchayat.

Vice-president of the panchayat, Rufus Daniel told The Hindu that the best time to demarcate the lake was during monsoon time when the lake was filled with water.

Encroachment

“If the Department of Survey and Land Records could have commenced the work to identify the boundary line of the lake sometime in June we could have started bio-fencing work by now. The delay was because a powerful lobby was working against the renovation work as proper demarcation would bring to light the encroachment,” Mr. Rufus said.

The panchayat had even suggested to the Department to seek the services of retired staff to carry out the survey if shortage of manpower was the reason for the delay, he said.

The panchayat committee would be convened within two weeks to discuss the future course of action, he added.

However, District Collector K. N Satheesh, refuted the charge and said the delay was purely due to administrative reasons.

The Department of Survey and Land Records was currently involved in Project Zero Landless and the four- laning of the Karamana-Kaliyikkavila stretch of the National Highway-66 passing through the capital, he said.

The work to demarcate the lake’s boundary would be undertaken in October and the project would be completed in a time-bound manner, he added.

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