KERALA

No action yet for restoration of wetlands and canals



G. Krishnakumar

Local bodies' concern over real estate development

KOCHI: Restoration of wetlands and canals in Ernakulam is moving at a snail's pace for want of support from local bodies, including Kochi Corporation and Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA).

A management plan suggested by the Cochin University of Science and Technology for restoration of over 60 canals in the urban region of Kochi is gathering dust owing to lack of support from the local bodies. The study had found that 22 canals out of 65 in the urban region in Kochi are potential freshwater sources.

The GCDA had supported the study conducted by the School of Environmental Sciences at Cochin University. A workshop involving representatives of various local bodies was also conducted to evolve an action plan.

Despite evolving a management plan, the local bodies had not taken any action on various suggestions for restoration of canals and wetlands.

Sources said that the local bodies had doubts whether the wetland and canal conservation plan might block real estate development in the city and nearby areas. Increasing demand for land in view of various projects announced for the city has also forced the authorities to go slow on the recommendations included in the study.

Pollution

The study had found that major freshwater bodies in the region are polluted by urban waste. Untreated sewage was found discharged into these canals. Rapid urbanisation had affected the natural ecology of these water sources. Households have access to municipal water supply and hence water from the Periyar ends up in the canals in a denatured form, according to the study.

Experts found that canals had little water-holding capacity due to the pressure of land development. The freshwater part of the canals was severely polluted following indiscriminate raw sewage discharge.

The study recommended that a system be developed to make compost from wastes generated by slaughterhouses and fish markets. Experts found that local water resources will have to be developed in tune with the upland development of the Greater Kochi Region.

They suggested the authorities evolve guidelines and regulations for conservation of freshwater marshes.

Land management and on-site waste disposal should be initiated to conserve the canals. An enormous political will is required for this, they added.