Survey spans 18 km, covers Olavanna, Perumanna, Peruvayal panchayats
Seven months ago, a survey to secure the banks of Mampuzha, a perennial river that courses through parts of the district, stopped abruptly.
The official reason given was “heavy rain.” The survey, kicked off in January 2012, has a chequered history of long interruptions. This was one such instance. The survey spans 18 km of the river’s length through the district and covers Olavanna, Perumanna, and Peruvayal grama panchayats. The survey had lasted barely a week after it started from Kunnathupalam in Olavanna panchayat. A letter dated June 19, 2012, from the District Collector to the Survey Director in the State capital had expressed alarm about ‘widespread’ encroachments on the river banks.
Public furore saw the survey resume in October. It went on till March this year and stopped at Keezhmad. Today, there is over 5 km of survey to be done at Peruvayal. Besides the rain, the Revenue Department says staff shortage has hit the survey. The department has only five field surveyors. Though two of them were deputed for the Mampuzha survey, they were recalled for the purpose of identifying land for the ‘Zero Landless’ project.
Now, the Mampuzha Samrakshana Samithi has warned that “big building projects” are taking over the river banks at Peruvayal. P. Koya, its secretary, said these private projects were quickly eating up the river. T.K.A. Azeez, the samithi’s president, said the surveyed land should be returned to the panchayats immediately. But there is no haste apparent in the official circles.
In a quagmire
P. Asmabi, Peruvayal panchayat president, said that stones to mark the river boundary was unloaded months ago. But nothing further was done. In Olavanna and Perumanna, the survey is over. “Even now we cannot do anything to protect the river because the survey is not complete. If we start some welfare measure now, somebody can file a suit in court claiming the land is his,” A.P. Peethambaran, Perumanna panchayat president, said. He added that a meeting had been scheduled with the District Collector on October 30.
However, District Collector C.A. Latha, when contacted, said she would have to check before responding on the matter
Meanwhile, Olavanna panchayat has proposed a project for Rs.3 crore to conserve the wetlands along the river bank and promote biodiversity.
Last week, the Centre for Water Resources and Development (CWRDM) also joined forces with its Mampuzha Revival Scheme. Madhavan Komath, scientist and the scheme’s principal investigator, wants the authorities of the three panchayats to help keep the river clean.