At a time when the entire State is tightening measures to protect the shrinking wetland and the surrounding eco system, Valiyathiruthi, a small village near Eranhikkal in the district, is witnessing a daylight encroachment into its vast area of mangrove forests located on the bank of Mangala Puzha.

Nearly half of the four-acre mangrove forest has been cleared already for the real-estate ventures and work is on to clear the portions left.

Even the continuing protest of the residents and environmentalists has evoked no positive response on the part of the realtors, who are now engaged in torching the already cleared heap of mangroves and levelling the ground for sale. Mostly, migrant labourers are recruited for the task, as the local population is up in arms against the move.

According to the residents, the land is now cleared with the claim that it will be utilised for setting up a government-aided fish farm.

But, the hidden purpose, according to them, is to construct a mega resort on the bank of the river. They also allege attempt to resell the land in small plots for similar tourism ventures for private players.

“Along with the cleared mangrove land, the bank of the river too is facing encroachment in the shady trade. As the entire area is now under the possession of a real-estate lobby from Kannur district, the local people are helpless to do anything for its protection,” says P.K. Prasad, a leader of the Ambalappadi Wetland Protection Committee. However, he affirms that the matter will be taken up by the wetland protection committee and complaints will be made to all the government departments concerned for action.

On Monday, the action committee will submit a memorandum to the Additional District Magistrate to stop the continuing encroachment on the riverbed and the destruction of the mangrove forest. A case will also be filed at the Elathur station for taking action against the persons who destroyed the mangroves.

Kallattu Viswanathan Nair, patron of the Ambalappadi Wetland Protection Committee, points out that the attack on the mangrove forest will slowly result in the drying up of pure drinking water in the region. “Now, even amid the scorching heat, people can comfortably manage the situation with the abundance of potable water in most of the local drinking water sources,” he points out.

As part of strengthening the protest, the local wetland protection committee has put up boards and banners in the area to communicate their resentment on the anti-nature activity. After filing the complaint with the Revenue Department, the committee will try to mobilise the massive support of all environmental organisations and activists from the district to fight for the cause.

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