Agriculture Department's report presents 'unrealistic figures' on wetland reclamation
As the State Government continues to turn a blind eye towards unrestrained reclamation of paddy and wetlands across the state, the State Agriculture Department has prepared a report claiming that there was only 711.5521 hectares of illegally reclaimed paddy and wetlands in the state.
According to the report, prepared after conducting a survey of 1,076 Krishi Bhavans in the state, only 711.5521 hectares of land remain illegally reclaimed. The report also said that the Revenue Department initiated legal measures in 807 cases. Steps have been taken to restore 96.6009 hectares of land.
The data bank has been prepared under the Kerala Paddyland, Wetland Conservation Act, 2008.
The interesting fact about the illegal reclamation, according to the details available with the Data Bank, is that in Thiruvananthapuram district land filling has been done in only 0.8 hectares of paddy, wetland and ponds.
Here no steps were taken against the illegal reclamation and naturally no land was restored. In Kollam district, only 1.95 hectares of land was illegally reclaimed. Here, the Revenue Department initiated legal steps in 35 cases. But no land was restored so far. In Pathanamthitta district, 130.09 hectares of land underwent landfill according to the data bank.
However, no government agency initiated any steps against this so far. In Alappuzha where Kuttanad- the rice bowl of Kerala- is located, the Krishi Bhavans could not find even a single strip of illegal landfill!. There is no record about it in the data bank. However, the Revenue Department registered 170 cases.
The data bank is also silent about the extent of landfill in Kottayam district. In Idukki district, only 10.5 hectares have been recorded as illegal landfill sites.
In Ernakulam district, 180.58 hectares of wetland and paddy fields have been identified as illegal landfill sites. Here, 144 cases have been registered and 3.117 hectares of land was restored.
In Thrissur district, 116.815 hectares of wetland was illegally filled. The data claims that 40.81 hectares of land has been restored.
While Palakkad has 92.048 hectares of illegally reclaimed wetland, Malappuram has 133.50 hectares. Kozhikode district has not provided any data yet.
While Kannur district has 40.56 hectares of illegally filled land, Wayanad and Kasaragod districts have recorded 1.16 hectares and 3.56 hectares respectively under this category. Altogether, the government claims that it had restored 96.60 hectares of land .
Asked to comment on the unrealistic figures about the illegal landfill of paddy, wetland and ponds, Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan admitted that it was true that the figures did not speak about the real situation prevailing in the state.
“Vast stretches of our precious paddy fields and wetlands are getting reclaimed. It is a fact that authorities failed to reverse the situation,” he said. Most of the land reclamation cases were not reported to the government, which is the reason for the unrealistic figures.
“Even in cases which were registered by competent authorities, no proper steps were taken to restore the land,” the minister said.
Asked whether there would be any realistic attempt to prevent the reclamation of whatever little land was left, he said a Ministerial committee with himself as the convener was set up to take earnest efforts in checking the reclamation. Ernakulam and Thrissur districts have not yet completed the process of data collection.
The report also reveals that the government has granted approval for land fill in 392.658374 hectares of wetland for the construction of houses based on 1,0823 applications.