Kerala

Panel denies permission for reclaiming wetland

90 acres at Kottukal for Vizhinjam seaport project

A request for reclaiming nearly 90 acres of wetland at Kottukal, Thiruvananthapruam, which was “severely inundated” in the 2008 floods, for Vizhinjam seaport project has been declined citing ecological reasons.

An expert report of the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2008 turned down the application, besides flagging the illegal reclamation carried out at the site. The company wanted to fill up the area for putting up warehouses and constructing roads to the project site. The report was obtained by The Hindu through an application filed under the Right to Information Act.

In its report, the SLMC expert member noted that the “flood map of Vizhinjam panchayat prepared using the remote sensing data from Bhuvan, IRSO, clearly indicates that the site was severely affected during the August 2018 flood.”

The land is recorded as ‘Nilam’ (field) in the data bank and the permission was sought for filling up 35.6984 hectares. The two streams, ‘nadu thodu’ and ‘valia thodu’, that pass through the proposed site and the two ponds at the site shall be protected.

The reclamation would reduce the water holding capacity of the region by 36 crore litres and lead to shortage of drinking water. The development of the site “can aggravate the future flood impact of the already flood-hit area,” the report cautioned.

The “large-scale land filling can affect the ground water retention capacity of that area and which in turn can lead to drought during summer months,” besides leading to the loss of the wetland habitat, sea-water ingression to the land and contamination of the inland water bodies in the region, it was reported.

The report also presented photographic evidences on the reclamation that has taken place in the area and the structures that were built there in violation of the wetland Act.

If permitted, 10,286 coconut palms will have to be axed thus removing the massive carbon sequestration done by these trees. The removal of these trees “can negatively influence the carbon balance of the already climate change-challenged State. The area supports as many as 80 species of birds, including migratory and threatened ones. The reclamation would lead to “adverse ecological impacts,” cautioned the report.

The government had not acted on the report, said a communication from P. Jayakumari, the State Public Information Officer.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 6:07:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/panel-denies-permission-for-reclaiming-wetland/article30444188.ece

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