Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The district administration has constituted a vigilance committee to preserve the Vellayani lake as a freshwater source and to prevent encroachments and sand mining. The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) K.V.Mohankumar. George Mercier, MLA, is the chairman of the committee and the RDO, the convener.

Mr. Mohankumar directed the police to take prompt and deterrent action against unauthorised sand mining. He stressed the need to invoke Section 20 of the Act against sand mining that prescribes imprisonment of two years and a fine of Rs.25,000. Mr.Mohankumar said the owners of the land used for dumping illegally-mined sand were also liable to be punished. The boats and vehicles used for unauthorised sand mining would be confiscated and the sand deposited in the lake.

Taluk squads headed by the Deputy Tahsildar would also keep a watch to prevent illegal extraction of sand. The squads and police teams will carry out night- time patrolling.

The meeting decided to take up a survey to determine the area of the lake. Unauthorised construction would also be dealt with sternly. No one would be allowed to breach the law prohibiting construction within 50 metres of the lake boundary. The vigilance committee would conduct a monthly review to assess the situation.

The committee includes representatives of the three-tier panchayats, Corporation councillors, police officials and social and environment activists.

District panchayat standing committee chairman V.Gangadharan, noted architect Sankar of Habitat, dancer Daksha Seth who has been campaigning for the preservation of the lake, farmers and officials from various departments were present at the meeting.