Thiruvananthapuram

Wetland filling for Technopark to be probed

The wetland and pond, before it was reclaimed.  

The National Green Tribunal has ordered the District Collector to look into the alleged mass destruction of wetlands and a pond as part of the expansion works of the phase 3 of Technopark.

As per the order issued by the Principal Bench of the tribunal on December 19 last year, and which was sent to the respondents two days ago, appropriate action has to be taken within one month, non-compliance of which is actionable by way of punitive action, including prosecution.

Complainant’s case

The order was issued following an online complaint filed by Thomas Lawrence, a city native, a few months ago. “The area in question comes under the Taurus Downtown Trivandrum project. The wetland was one of the largest groundwater recharging sources in the city, which has now been filled and topped with interlocking tiles. When alternative space is available, such valuable wetland should not have been diverted. It could worsen flooding in the area. Also, the Technopark is primarily meant for IT companies, while a large part of the land in this project is being used for commercial and residential purposes,” says Mr. Lawrence.

‘Harmful for ecology’

The agricultural officer of Attipra had in January 2018 submitted a report to the RDO saying that the reclamation is harmful to the environment. A local-level monitoring committee, consisting of 12 agriculture officers and 12 village officers, too said the same in its report to the district administration.

But the State government exempted some survey numbers in the area from the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2008, as per an order issued on February 3 last year. The exemption was given for 34 cents allotted to Winterfell Realty Pvt Ltd, an Indian subsidiary of Taurus. The area was marked paddy field in the land data register.

Case for exemption

As per Section 10 of the 2008 Act, in case of paddy lands, the State government can grant exemption if the local-level monitoring committee has recommended the conversion and the government is satisfied on the basis of the report submitted by the State-level committee that no alternative land is available and such conversion shall not affect the cultivation in the nearby paddy land and also the ecology of the area. In the case of wetlands, there is total prohibition on reclamation, as per Section 11.

On December 28, the Attipra agricultural officer again inspected the site, following which it submitted a report to the RDO that the area under survey numbers 358 and 359 of block 17 is being converted rapidly.

“This wetland ecosystem is part of the National Wetland Atlas prepared by the Space Applications Centre (ISRO), which has to be protected,” says Mr. Lawrence.

District Collector K. Vasuki said she was yet to get a copy of the report.

Technopark CEO Hrishikesh Nair declined to comment.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:13:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/wetland-filling-for-technopark-to-be-probed/article26054373.ece

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