The conservation of Kottuli wetlands, an important biodiversity spot in the city, received a major boost with hundreds of students, writers, media persons, residents’ associations, environmental activists, and socio-cultural activists gathering at the Sarovaram bio-park, which is part of the Kottuli wetlands, to reiterate their solidarity and support to the cause of its conservation on Wednesday.

Over 1,000 students attended the programme. The group included those from the hilly regions where a hartal was declared in protest against the decision of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to identify as many as 123 villages in Kerala as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) as recommended by the Kasturirangan committee report on the Western Ghats.

They took a pledge to protect the wetlands at any cost. The get-together was coordinated by Darshanam Cultural Forum with the support of various organisations, including the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Supporting Urban Sustainability (SUS) team, and the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.

The event began with a painting camp at the bio-park, which was inaugurated by poet P.K. Gopi. Paintings by seven artists from the city on conservational themes were exhibited at the venue.

The public meeting began with six students handing over saplings of six varieties of true mangroves (mangrove species are classified as true mangroves and mangrove associates) seen in the wetlands to the representatives of six residents’ associations around Kottuli area.

Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS) secretary and Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) scientist Jafar Palot, who spoke on the biodiversity of the Kottuli wetlands, gave a vivid picture of why the conservation of the ecologically sensitive area was important to the city and lakhs of people living around it.

Fragile eco system

Dr. Palot said the Kottuli wetlands, which was one of the 27 nationally important wetlands listed by the Ministry of Forests and Environment, was home to nearly 200 plant species.

The ZSI scientist shared his concern over the slow disappearance of certain species of aquatic plants, including water lily, from the region. He said the disappearance of bird species such as jacana (Thamarakkozhi) might be because of this. Dr. Palot said Kottuli wetlands was home to over 45 species of dragon flies, rare animals such as jackals and palm civets, and around 20 varieties of snakes, including the rarest Kerala Mud Snake.

The students handed over a memorandum to the organisers, meant to be submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee, inviting his attention to the cause of conserving the Kottuli wetlands and the Canoli canal and requesting him to take necessary steps to ensure their protection.

Environmentalist A. Achyuthan, T. Shobeendran, CSTED director K.V. Muhammed Kunji, CWRDM scientist Madhavan Komath, Gandhian Thayat Balan, writer U.K. Kumaran, and KUWJ State president K. Premnath, among others, spoke.

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