Environmental activists in the district sat on the parched bed of the shrinking Sasthamcotta Lake and went on a fast on Monday to observe World Water Day as part of their continuing agitation demanding the protection of the biggest fresh water lake in the State and also designated as a Ramsar site in 2002.

Those undertaking the fast took a pledge to protect the lake. The pledge was administered by Congress leader, V.M. Sudheeran. The fast was under the banner of the Paristhiti Samrakshana Ekopana Samithi and the Sasthamcotta Lake Protection Action Council. It had the support of the Sasthamcotta Grama Panchayat. People from all age groups and various walks of life joined in.

Inaugurating the fast, Mr. Sudheeran called for the immediate declaration of the Sasthamcotta Lake as a protected area. He also called for the constitution of a statutory authority as promised by the government for the protection of the lake. Such an authority, as an autonomous body, is needed because the protection of the lake requires the coordination of various departments.

The protection of the lake also requires a master plan which can be successfully drafted only by an autonomous body. Mr. Sudheeran said that on the issue of constituting a statutory body for the protection of the lake, he would even welcome an ordinance.

No encroachments into the lake should be allowed. A total sanitation programme should be implemented to prevent the lake getting polluted. The present picture of the lake is a heart rending sight which translates into reality the concerns expressed by environmental activists over the lake years ago.

Protection of the Sasthamcotta Lake is not an issue pertaining to Kollam district alone but one that concerns the State. Steps on a war footing should be taken to prevent the lake from disappearing. He wanted the environment activists and the action council members to urgently meet the Chief Minister and the Water Resources Minister on the issue of speeding up the declaration of a statutory authority for the lake.

The fast was presided over by the chairman of the samithi, R. Gangaprasad. General convener of the samithi, Odanavattam Vjayaprakash presented the report on the condition of the lake. Environment activists, P.K. Gopan, Chavara K.S. Pillai, T. Geetha, C. Jayakumar, K. Najib and K. Sajid also spoke.