The first biodiversity heritage site in the State will soon come up at Asramam in Kollam city.
More than 50 hectares comprising the Government Guest House complex, the mangrove spread, and the creek of Ashtamudi Lake come under this heritage site.
The formal moves to declare this have been initiated by Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma. A preliminary meeting was organised by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSSB) here last week.
The KSSB is preparing a draft and it will be notified in the gazette within two weeks. Within a month of the notification, a public hearing to elicit opinion of people from various walks of life will be held.
Member-secretary of the KSSB Dinesan Cheruvat told The Hindu that the final gazette notification would be made after compiling public opinion. Dr. Cheruvat said a formal declaration was expected in three to six months.
“There is no need for a fresh study on the mangroves and the lake as many reports of the government and environmentalists on both are available,” Dr. Cheruvat said.
The studies by botanist N. Ravi and mangrove expert V.K. Madhusoodhanan had won international acclaim, which Dr. Cheruvat said would make the declaration process faster.
“But one of the prime requirements will be to keep the Asramam creek pollution-free,” he said.
Asramam was the location of the State’s first aerodrome which later went defunct following an air crash there. The Government Guest House is a 190-year-old colonial structure which, during the British Raj and several years after Independence, was known as the Residency Bungalow as the British Resident stayed there.
The mangroves spread on the complex having some rare varieties was retained and protected by the British. But during the 1980s under the guise of a development project, a major stretch of the mangrove forests was wiped out.
Nature lovers came out against the destruction of the mangroves.
Dr. Ravi even moved the Kerala High Court to protect the spread and won the case.