KOLLAM: Rampant reclamation activities will spell doom for the Buckingham Canal, a 450-year-old heritage landmark at Thangasseri here. Last week, the village officer had stopped a reclamation activity by a builder who was constructing a flat at the adjoining plot, following protests by the residents.
Ward councillor J Stanley, who led the protest, said that the party concerned had reclaimed the canal and tried to construct a compound wall, when residents informed him about the developments. Stanley said that the real estate firms had purchased most of the land in the area.
“Even people in the neighbourhood are not aware of the exact ownership of the properties alongside the canal. While a major portion of it once belonged to the Kollam Diocese, some of them were sold over the years,” he said.
The village Officer told ‘Express’ that no notice was issued to the person concerned, as no survey stones were found in the area. Also, the parties produced necessary permissions obtained from the Town Planning Officer. He said that matter was reported to the Tehsildar and the Taluk Survey Office would conduct a survey to determine the boundaries of the canal puramboke. Incidentally, according to the revenue records, the canal is a small stream covering an area of 42.60 cents.
“The reclamation activities are being carried out with the connivance of a section of Revenue and Corporation officials and the encroachers have strong political backing,” said Francis Thangasseri, a resident. Thangasseri has become a prime residential area in the city where land price is above Rs 5 lakh a cent, he said.
According to a survey conducted in 1980 by the Kollam West Village Office, the canal was around 750 metres long and with a width varying from 12 feet towards the eastern end to about 100 feet on the western side, which is connected to the sea. What remains now is two feet to 10 feet wide narrow stream.
In 2007, then Mayor N Padmalochanan had conducted an on-the-spot study of the mining and reclamation activity carried out at the Fort and Canal and had directed to issue stop memo at both sites. In spite of this, a good portion of the canal had been reclaimed. Moreover, the Fort is a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India and they had put up a notice at the Fort banning mining and construction activity within 300 metres of the periphery of the Fort.
However, even the Fort compound has been encroached upon over the years and a good portion of the Fort’s walls has disappeared.
The canal, located between the Portuguese/Dutch cemetery and Lighthouse Road in Thangasseri and opens to the sea near the Mount Carmel convent, dates back to the time when Thangasseri was a Portuguese/Dutch colony.