When the Knowledge city project began taking shape at Thanthonnithuruth island, most of the developments associated with it seems to have gone unnoticed.
Little do the residents know about the filling up of 70 acres of land in the small island under the Coastal Regulation Zone for the project.
“We did not know what was happening. Most of the land here are owned by people who do not live here. So even if there is some transaction, the local residents do not really come to know. Even in the case of government projects, we only hear about it through the newspapers and channels,” said a resident of the island, Soumithri Muralidharan.
According to the residents in the neighbouring Mulavukad island, a host of about 100 canoes had swarmed the spot and filled up the ‘kettu’ submerged by water. “We started noticing it only later since the area is surrounded by water and there aren’t people living nearby. Even from Mulavukad island, this spot is only vaguely noticeable. So many find it difficult to make out. Moreover, there is an old crematorium here which will be in danger if the land is filled up. But not many know about this. ”
Even the councillor for Thanthonnithuruthu Manikandarajan, has come to know about the land-filling only recently.
“May be because there were no huge machines used, we did not see any land-filling. Moreover, even if people saw it they would have passed it off as the owner building the boundary. But later when some of the locals came to me, I immediately informed the Mulavukad village to stop the filling as the it was under the CRZ and the Corporation had not given any sanction for any construction there. But by then the court had intervened and put an end to it,” he said.
Sources with the Corporation and the Goshree Island Development Authority also said that it has no knowledge about any filling up of the land and no permission whatsoever has been given even though the proposals for the Knowledge City project and the construction of a bridge had come in for discussions.
Even though the construction has been stopped in the area, one is now hardly able to make out that the area was once a ‘Chemmeen Kettu’ used for shrimp farming. This has in turn made environmentalists and other locals suspicious of the claims that the whole thing went unnoticed.
“Members of almost every other party in the area had taken money to keep quiet. The issue came out only when the owners stopped bribing the party men,” says an environmentalist from the nearby Mulavukad island.