Authorities have flouted laws to get permission to fill wetland, they allege

A collective of 18 residents’ associations around the Sarovaram Biopark area has decided to move court against the flouting of norms by the authorities who are trying to fill the Kottooly wetlands. Kottooly is one of the five notified wetlands in the State.

A convention was held on Sunday at the spot where the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) had started filling a stream for the purpose of constructing an approach road towards the proposed site for its Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP).

300 people

Around 300 people from the residents’ associations participated in the convention to express solidarity with the strike.

Poet and environmental activist P.K. Gopi inaugurated the convention, which was attended by environmentalists Professor Shobheendran and M.A. Johnson, and ward councillor K. Sathyanathan.

The convention, on the basis of various documents procured through RTI and responses from officials concerned, came to the conclusion that various laws were flouted to gain permission to fill the wetland.

The 19-acre wetland was transferred from the Revenue Department to the Tourism Department to be part of the Sarovaram Biopark in 2005. The Tourism department had to get the consent for the transfer from Kozhikode Corporation, as Kottooly was a wetland and hence the Corporation was responsible for it.

But when permission was sought to fill the land, the authorities claimed that it was an unused paddy field.

This was proof enough that fabricated documents were used to obtain the approval.

The KSUDP had in 2012 appealed to the Vriksha Committee for permission to fill the stream.

The committee had reported that neither the wetland nor the stream should not be filled at any cost, as it was a haven of biodiversity.

The committee noted that there were at least seven species of mangroves along the stream alone.

The residents were apprehensive about what would happen if the wetland was filled.

Excess water

“The wetland stores excess water during monsoon and protects us from flooding. During summer, our wells never dry up thanks to the eco system. But if it is filled, there will be massive flooding in the nearby areas during monsoon and in summer, we will be in drought”, I.K. Biji, secretary of Eranhipalam- Palat Residents Association said.

The residents also decided to physically resist any moves by authorities to fill the wetland.

The alleged fabrication of documents would be challenged in the court.

Also there would be more attempts to create awareness on the issue through school environment clubs, Mr. Biju said.

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