Kerala

Residents against tree felling at Thottappally

Local residents are up in arms against the government move to cut down more than 500 trees close to the Thottappally estuary. On Thursday, residents prevented Forest Department officials and the contractor from felling the trees.

A high-level meeting in May 2019 had decided to cut the trees by invoking various sections of the Disaster Management Act. The decision was based on an observation made by the Irrigation Department that the trees were impeding water flow from the Kuttanad region.

524 trees face the axe

Following this, the district administration directed the Forest Department to chop 524 trees, mostly casuarina trees on a land parallel to the Thottappally spillway.

“The local residents are opposed to felling of trees. We have reported the matter to the Alappuzha district administration and Disaster Management Authority,” said a Forest Department official.

Besides the decision to chop trees, the high-level meeting had also given its nod to the Irrigation Department to go ahead with the planned removal of mineral-rich sand from the estuary.

The Irrigation Department is set to sell the sand to the Indian Rare Earths (IRE)/Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. (KMML).

Turtle hatching site

Environmentalists and local residents alleged that the decision to cut trees and extract mineral sand was interconnected. “The Thottappally coast is one of the prime locations in the State where Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs. Felling of a large number of trees and subsequent extraction of mineral sand will endanger the ecology of the area. To extract sand from the estuary, they need to cut the trees,” said Saji Jayamohan of the Green Roots Nature Conservation Forum.

Local residents said that large-scale extraction of mineral sand would result in the intrusion of salt water into Kuttanad.

“The move will not help prevent flooding in Kuttanad. Instead, it will spell doom for the agriculture sector and the entire Kuttanad region. They are cutting the trees so that they could easily extract and transport mineral sand from the area,” said a resident.

The residents said that a joint action council would be constituted to oppose the government move.

The Dheevara Sabha, which is among those opposed to felling of the trees, will organise a protest march on Saturday.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 9:30:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/residents-against-tree-felling-at-thottappally/article28801414.ece

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