Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has urged Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to initiate strong action against a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-controlled society running “a commercial venture in the form of a ‘mangrove theme park' on the bank of Valapattanam river, endangering the mangrove vegetation of the area.”

In a letter addressed to Mr. Achuthanandan, copies of which were released to the media on Friday, Mr. Chandy said he had directly conducted a study on the operation of the theme park and was convinced that the society had flouted all the legal provisions for protecting the environment.

The park was situated in 12 acres of land at Pappinisserry in Kannur district on the northern bank of the Valapattanam, sheltering rich mangrove vegetation. Part of the plot was purchased by the society from an individual. Part of it was said to be encroached land and still another part taken by the society on lease from the local panchayat. The society had tampered with an extremely fragile eco-system patch, damaging it irrevocably by setting up structures and causing disturbance by throwing it open to a large number of visitors each day, Mr. Chandy alleged.

He said the setting up of the park was against the provisions of the law for the conservation of wetlands, the coastal zone regulations, the law for mangrove conservation and the law governing ecologically fragile areas. The park was hardly a kilometre away from the mouth of the Valapattanam, within range of the ebb and flow of the tide. Hut-like structures put up by the society were jutting out into the river in blatant violation of the Act governing coastal zone regulations.

Sending to Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran a copy of the letter, he asked whether the society had obtained the Revenue Department's sanction for undertaking construction of structures in an area that came under the purview of the law for wetland conservation, enacted in 2008.

Mr. Chandy also asked Forest Minister Benoy Viswom why this area and several adjoining patches of mangroves had not been notified as ecologically fragile land in spite of a proposal mooted by the Forest officials in 2006-07.

He alleged that the CPI(M) cadres behind the society had beaten up environmental activists who had been conducting a peaceful agitation highlighting the illegality of the theme park.

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