Kerala

Mangrove deforestation continues unabated in Kannur

A file photo of mangroves that were cleared on a private land at Ezhome in Kannur district.  

Deforestation of mangroves is continuing unabated in Kannur district.

Kannur is blessed with large tracts of mangrove forests spread over government and private lands. However, large-scale felling of mangroves was recently noticed in private lands at Pattuvam, Ezhome, Cherukkunu, and Kandakali in Payyanur. The land is now being used for Kaipad and shrimp farming.

All mangrove regions come under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) and are legally protected by the CRZ Act, said N. Ramith, a Wildlife Trust of India member who is in charge of the Kannur Kandal project, which creates awareness about the need for protecting mangroves.

However, there has been massive destruction of mangroves for Kaipad paddy cultivation and shrimp farming in the district, he said.

Mr. Ramith observed that while violations were reported in CRZ zones, the almost continuous destruction of mangroves largely goes unreported to the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA). The State has 650 sq.km of inter-tidal region, and shrimp farming is taken up in around 100 sq.km.

“The subsidised scheme implemented by the government for promoting shrimp farming and Kaipad paddy is a threat to mangroves,” he said.

While shrimp farming is done in around 4 sq.km in Kannur, the subsidised scheme of the government is further encouraging people to destroy mangroves, Mr. Ramith said, adding that it would have serious ramifications for biodiversity and livelihood of people.

V. Retheeshan, Forest Range Officer, Taliparamba, said the department had last year filed over 20 cases against those who allegedly axed grown mangroves. This year, three cases were filed under the Kerala Promotion of Tree Growth in Non-Forest Areas Act.

The felling of mangroves has gone up considerably to make way for Kaipad paddy cultivation and shrimp farming. According to the Act, farmers should obtain permission from the Forest Department before felling mangroves, he said.

District Environment Committee member Vinod Payyada alleged that clearing of mangroves was taking place with the knowledge of the authorities.

Citing a Bombay High Court order, Mr. Payyada said the bench comprising Justice A.S. Oka and R.I. Chagla, who prohibited any sort of commercial exploitation of mangroves, had observed that the destruction of mangroves offended the fundamental rights of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution.

However, the government is allowing destruction of mangroves under the Oru Nellum Oru Meenum project, which aims at rotation of fish culture and paddy culture. Though the scheme aims at ensuring additional income for Kaipad farmers, there are those with coveted interests, he alleged.

Meanwhile, T. Vanaja, director, Kaipad Area Development Society, who is involved in promoting Kaipad paddy cultivation, argued that cultivation was stopped by farmers in private lands for various reasons, including high cost of production and shortage of labourers.

Ms. Vanaja said there was huge demand for Kaipad rice in the domestic market and abroad. She added that farming could not be revived without clearing a small portion of mangroves which had grown into the cultivable area. “But it does not imply complete destruction of mangroves. Unfortunately, the Forest Department has been stopping farmers from cultivating in their own property,” she added.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 11:35:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/mangrove-deforestation-continues-unabated-in-kannur/article34404335.ece

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