Water sport ventures found flouting norms in Kannur

With the Malanad-Malabar River Cruise project gaining a lot of attention, private investors have expressed wish to launch various activities, including water sports, to turn the region into an adventure tourism destination.

However, the ventures that are coming up reportedly with the backing of local bodies and political parties have been found bypassing environmental impact assessments and clearances from the authorities. Subsequently, environmental activists and members of the public have come out in protest against such ventures citing their impact on ecology and livelihood of local fisherman.

Several areas from Mahe to Kavvayi river are covered by the Malanad-Malabar River Cruise project, which falls under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ). All developmental ventures require prior approval and clearances from the authorities before they are opened to the public.

On Friday, Payyanur MLA T.I. Madhusoodanan along with Payyanur Municipal Chairperson K.V. Lalitha inaugurated Xtreme Water Adventures, a private venture in the Kavvayi river.

The region with small islands and a large tract of mangrove forest that supports various birds and marine species is an ecologically fragile area and falls under CRZ-1. Still, it is one of the most polluted rivers in the district with high Bacterial Oxygen Demand (BOD) and is under continuous monitoring by the State Pollution Control Board (PCB).

Any activity that may possibly affect the river requires prior approval from the board, said K. Anitha, Environmental Engineer, PCB. But no such permission has been granted for the water sports venture for which the company is rolling out Jet Ski speed boats to attract tourists.

Since the oil used in the machines may affect the river and marine species, not to mention pollution caused by arrival of tourists, the company should follow certain norms, she said.

Apparently, the Municipal Chairperson claimed that permission was granted to the company to start the water sports venture on the eve of its inauguration. On the contrary, Municipal Secretary M.K. Gireesh said he was unaware of it, and that no permission had been sought from the Municipality.

When similar activities were launched in the Mayyazhipuzha in New Mahe panchayat, the Mayyazhipuzha Conservation Committee passed a resolution asking the authorities to restrict speed boat services. Committee chairman Shaukat Ali Eroth said the panchayat had granted permission for adventure sports without consultations or discussions. However, the panchayat later gave assurance that the activity would not be allowed. He said it was feared that the vibrations caused by high-speed boats in the water would impact aquatic life, including small fish, plants, and coastal vegetation.

He explained that micro-organisms could not withstand excessive vibration and the resultant pressure and heat. It also seriously affects fish breeding grounds.

Environmental activist Bhaskaran Vellur said the river water had already been polluted by liquid effluents and solid waste discharged from the shore. Only a few species survive the change in pH value and oxygen content of water.

Expressing apprehensions over the construction of boat jetties and terminals, he said the authorities should verify if there were violations. He alleged that officials had failed to check CRZ violations in the district, and that they had not even bothered to reply to RTI queries.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:10:58 AM |

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