Survey finds rampant encroachments

Threatened: The Chaliyar at Mavoor in Kozhikode.  

The Kerala Nadhi Samrakahsna Samithi has found that there is widespread encroachment on the river Chaliyar and that the encroachers are mostly businesspersons.

A fact-finding team of the samithi started travelling along the river banks on September 20 covering the stretches that come under Feroke and Ramanattukara municipalities, Olavanna and Pantheerankavu villages in Kozhikode district and Vazhayur in Malappuram district. The initiative was in the wake of the destruction caused by the Chaliyar throughout its course during the recent floods.

“There are many prominent people who have encroached on the river banks. The banks of the river have been marked off as private properties in many places and the public has been denied access to the river banks”, State secretary of the samithi, T.V.Rajan, said. “The bylanes that led to the river banks have disappeared and the local bodies have no documents to prove that those lanes existed”, he said.

A well-known water sports academy and a prominent jeweller are among those who have constructed private boat jetties on the “purambokku” land on the banks of Chaliyar.

“They have removed soil from the banks to level it with the river to facilitate boating”, Mr. Rajan said.

He said that a major transport company had encroached on the purambokku land while a popular jeweller had constructed a convention centre on the encroached land.

“With most parts of the river banks becoming enclosed private spaces, there is no way the general public can access the river. Due to this, rescue workers often find it difficult to save people who fall into the river”, he said.

Mr. Rajan also alleged a popular resort on the banks of the Chaliyar had been emptying its sewage into the river through a bamboo garden they have set up on the bank. To top it all, a village office on the banks of the river was constructed on encroached land, he said.

These encroachments amounted to contempt of court as the Kerala High Court has ordered in 2001 to measure the banks of all the rivers in the State and to protect the 'purambokku' land using 'jhendas'. It also stated that land, at least 4 metres wide, close to the rivers should be set aside for the public to access the river, even if it was private property.

The price of the land along the banks of the river had also escalated in the recent years. “The encroachers know that the river would soon be part of the National Waterway and all the structures are in view of the situation”, Mr.Rajan said.

The Nadi Samrakshana Samithi plans to move court against these encroachments and hold the district collectors in all the districts responsible for clearing them, Mr.Rajan said.

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Printable version | May 1, 2021 6:21:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/survey-finds-rampant-encroachments/article29513290.ece

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