Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is chocking.

Urban development activities in the form of high-rise buildings have almost surrounded the green patch located within the city.

A large number of apartment complexes and office buildings have come up near the MBS. The proximity to Marine Drive and the scintillating view of the Kochi backwaters have made the place one of the preferred destinations of the builders.

The latest entrant for capitalising the advantages of the place is the Indian Railways. Earlier, the Kerala State Housing Board had announced its decision to set up a commercial-cum-residential complex at its holding near the MBS. The Railways is planning to set up a medical college on its land adjoining the protected area. The authorities had submitted an affidavit in the Kerala High Court recently in this regard.

“How can one oppose the Railways and the Housing Board projects alone when several private agencies have constructed huge structures near the MBS,” asked an official of the Forest Department.

But K. Sukumaran, a member of the management committee of the sanctuary and a former judge of the Kerala High Court, holds a different view.

“The property of the Railways is contiguous to the sanctuary and any construction activity at the site would have its bearing on the place. The issue needs to be discussed at the management committee meeting of the MBS,” he said.

The Kochi Corporation had earlier approached the Railways with a proposal for setting up a natural heritage site there which would have ensured the protection of greenery as well as the heritage structure.

“The Railways had offered to protect the site along with its other heritage projects,” said Rajan Chedambath, director of the Centre for Heritage Environment and Development of the Kochi Corporation.

In the given situation, the practical proposition would be to protect the MBS and its greenery from encroachments. Nothing much can be done there as several tall buildings have come up in its vicinity, said an official.