ALAPPUZHA: The violation of the Wetland Act, 2008, is punishable. Violators shall be imprisoned up to two years and can be imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh. The act says, “Any person who in violation of the provision of this Act converts or reclaims any paddy land or wetland notified by the Revenue Dept shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term of which may extend to two years but shall not be less than six months and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees but shall not be less than Rs 50,000.”
“The act gives extensive powers to district collectors. Normally a collector orders to remove the soil used for filling by the land owner, but in this case the alleged person is a minister and it’s a violation of the oath of office,” said a retired tahsildar.For filling paddy land or wetland, the land owners should manage approval from Local Level Monitoring Committee appointed under the Act. Collector, agriculture and other department officers, and padasekhara samithy leaders are included in the committee and their permission is a must. But the Lake Palace Resort operators did not receive it.
Minister used his influence for diverting the fund for constructing a road and filling of paddy land. Two MPs allocated fund for the tarring of the road leading to the resort. Two MLAs also allocated money from their fund for the construction of the road a few years ago. The road connecting Valiyakulam to Zero jetty is said to be for the residents of the Zero jetty area, but the direction was shifted to pass near Lake Palace Resort and many cents of lands were filled in front of the resort.
The documents submitted by the resort authorities said the land was owned by Leelamma Easow, sister of Thomas Chandy, and the land was filled by her. A case is pending in the High Court related to its filling.
Construction of road through a paddy land is allowed mainly for the movement of agricultural machineries. As per the act, only farm roads with a width of 3m to 4m for moving farming machineries including tractors are allowed through paddy land. But, in the 1 km-long road, the width is above seven metres up to the resort’s gate, which is a violation, said a revenue officer.
The officials examined the satellite pictures of the past 10 years to prove the violations. In front of the gate, paddy field was filled for constructing parking area and a lengthy parking bay.The 982-metre road, connecting Valiyakulam to Zero Jetty road, was tarred using the fund of MPs P J Kurian and K E Ismail. After the resort’s gate, it takes the form of a farm road and its width is reduced to four meters. In Zero Jetty area, around 10 families are residing and no connectivity is there beyond that. The road was tarred in the first week of August with the fund allocated from the Harbour Engineering Department. In the 982-metre road, around 410 metres were tarred at an estimated cost of Rs 28.5 lakh.
Cong demands Chandy ouster
T’Puram: The Congress has called for the resignation of Thomas Chandy in the wake of Collector’s report on encroachment by the minister in Marthandam Kayal in Alappuzha.