Karimpanapalam STP: ball now in Wetland Authority’s court

Fate uncertain: The plot identified for the sewage treatment plant at Karimpanapalam.   | Photo Credit: K_RAGESH

The Kozhikode Municipal Corporation has revived plans for a sewage treatment plant project at Karimpanapalam near Sarovaram Biopark, following a recent order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) entrusting the State Wetland Authority Kerala (SWAK) to make a call on whether the land in question was indeed a wetland and was to be notified as such.

The project, which began in 2015, met a dead-end after the Eranhipalam-Palat Residents’ Association and the Kottooly Wetland Protection Committee opposed it on grounds that the project would pollute the nearby Conolly Canal.

They also alleged that the Kerala Water Authority’s land, on which the project had been proposed to come up, was an illegal landfill which was actually part of the Kottooli wetland, one of the five notified wetlands in the State.

The organisations had then approached the NGT and procured an injunction order in 2016, restraining the Corporation and the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP), which was the nodal agency for the construction of the STP at the time, from carrying out any construction activities or other operations on the 2.6-acre land. By that time, the KSUDP had spent around ₹17 crore for the STP project in the form of pipelines and manholes besides foundation work for the plant.

The new development seems to have rekindled hopes for the project. Corporation health standing committee chairman K.V. Baburaj sounded hopeful about getting a positive response from SWAK in its report that might come out in two months.

Hurdles remain

However, there are many more hurdles before the Corporation even if the Authority report came out in its favour. “Since the KSUDP is now defunct, we need to find a new source to fund the project. The initial estimate for the project was ₹99 crore. Now it will cost much more. Besides we also need to calculate the losses,” said Mr. Baburaj. If the authority clears it, the Corporation plans to execute the project directly.

Meanwhile, the Kottooli Wetland Protection Committee plans to make an appeal to SWAK, highlighting the need to notify the land in question as a wetland. I.K. Biju, who represented the residents’ association at the NGT, said the Environment Committee of Kerala Legislative Assembly had declared the project abandoned in a sitting held in Kozhikode in 2017.

“We expect the said ruling to be in our favour when we approach the Wetland Authority,” said Mr. Biju.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 5:10:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/karimpanapalam-stp-ball-now-in-wetland-authoritys-court/article30391716.ece

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