KANNUR: Kallen Pokkudan, the renowned environmentalist and mangrove crusader, died from a chest infection compounded by age-related illnesses in the Mission Hospital at Cherukunnu here. He was 78 years old.
Eariler, Pokkudan was admitted to the hospital following a suspected food poisoning on Sunday. He has been undergoing treatment for a liver condition, and breathed his last around 3 pm. The funeral function will be held on his house premises at Ezhome on Monday.
Pokkudan, also known as Kandal (mangrove in vernacular), devoted his life to the cause of mangrove conservation. He has planted more than one lakh mangroves across the state over three decades. He is also the man behind one of the biggest mangrove forests in the state.
Pokkudan was born to the couple, Aringelyan Govindhan Parotty and Kallen Vellachi, in 1937 at Ezhom near Pazhayanghadi in the district. Mangroves offer a lifeline to areas under the threat of natural disasters like Tsunami. Pokkudan’s work to extend the mangrove cover has earned him a UNESCO special mention.
He was also the recipient of many a prestigious awards including the State Forest Department’s first Vanamithra award, Harithavyakthi, P V Thampi environmentalist and Bhoomi mithra. Of late, Kannur University has bestowed Acharya award honour on him. Pokkudan has also acted in the state award winner ‘Papilio Budha’ directed by Jayan K Cherian. He also came on screen in ‘Sthalam’ directed by Siva Prasad.
His mangrove odyssey started back in the 80s when the peculiar nature of the plant that grew in marshy tracts piqued his curiosity. He, then, collected the seeds of mangroves and planted it in the marshy lands in Pazhayangadi.
Later, he took it upon himself to spread the message of mangrove conservation. Pokkudan has authored a few books including Kandalkkadukalil ente jeevitham (My life in the mangrove forests), ‘Ente Rashtreeya Jeevitham’ (My Political Life), and ‘Kandal Inangal’ (Mangrove Varieties).
An active worker of CPM in his early days, Pokkudan later parted ways with the party as he felt the party’s vision was not in line with his crusade.
An expert in mangroves and its environmental importance, his latest book, ‘Kandal Inangal’, is a documentation of mangrove varieties in Kerala.
Recently, he started a ‘mangrove school’ to enlighten the young generation about the importance of mangrove conservation.
Kallen Pokkudan has conducted more than 500 classes on mangroves conservation and wetland bio-diversity in schools and colleges across India.
Minister, KPCC prez offer condolences
T’Puram: Forests Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan has condoled the death of environmental activist Kallen Pokkudan. The minister said Pokkudan had made noted contributions for the preservation of mangroves. KPCC president VM Sudheeran remembered Pokkudan as a selfless environmentalist who taught lessons of nature conservation to Keralites. “Pokkudan is a role model for nature lovers”, he said. State Medicinal Plants Board chief executive officer and State Biodiversity Board member KG Sreekumar said Pokkudan devoted his life for the conservation of mangroves.