“When the State is bearing the brunt of unscientific development practices, let’s not add one more to the list” was the general message conveyed through a Black Day observance across the State under the aegis of the National Waterway Environment Protection Committee against the implementation of the third phase of the National Waterway.
Black flags were erected in front of houses and in public places along the proposed route of the National Waterway.
“Nobody, except those in power, wants this Waterway that will take away the livelihood of thousands of people. More than 10,000 people will have to be evicted for the project,” said environmentalist Sreenivasan Koyilandy. He was speaking at a protest meeting in Kozhikode on Sunday.
Around 100 big and small bridges have to be demolished. Agriculture and inland fisheries will be adversely affected if the authorities go ahead with the Waterway project for which around 27 km of new canals have to be constructed, Mr. Sreenivasan pointed out.
“Those in power have always been in the hands of the rich. They would announce projects that never benefit people. Environmentalists who protest are often branded as Maoists or extremists. Ultimately, the project would come up, resulting in huge environmental disasters,” said environmentalist Shamsudheen Kuniyil of the Connolly Canal Theerajana Samrakshana Samiti. The Connolly Canal, which goes through Kozhikode city, is to be developed as part of the Waterway project.
“It [Waterway project] is a ₹1,000-crore project. Where do these crores come from?” asked Mr. Shamsudheen. The third phase of the National Waterway proposes to connect the Periyar, Bharathapuzha, Tirur river, Kadalundi river, Chaliyar, Kallai river, Korappuzha, Kuttiadi river, Mahe river, Ponnyam river, Ancharakkandi river, Kattampalli river, Valapattanam river, and Thalipparambu river through new and existing canals, leading to Neeleshwaram and Chandragiri rivers in Kasaragod. It will pass through 11 districts.
According to environmentalists, no economic, social, scientific, or environmental feasibility study has been conducted before finalising the project.