With the environmentalists expressing their protest against a plan to mine sand from Periyar and Bharathapuzha rivers for the Kochi Metro Rail project, metro man E Sreedharan, on Monday, issued a statement assuring that if the DMRCis allowed to collect the sand, it will try to do so without endangering the hydraulic regime of the rivers.“Good river sand is essential to ensure the life of the Metro structures which have to last at least for 100 years. We have to make a choice between structural durability and environmental impact,” said Sreedharan.
“Unlawful quarrying of the sand mafia that is affecting the rivers. We all know that no construction activity in the State has come to a standstill for want of sand, which means sand is somehow collected or stolen from our rivers” he added. Pointing out that developmental projects will have some adverse environmental impact, Sreedharan said that considering the overwhelming environmental gains, the Environment Ministry has exempted all Railways and Metro Projects from environmental clearances. However, that doesn’t mean the concerns could be ignored.
“While setting up the Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro, environmental concerns were raised. If we had abandoned the projects based on the misguided concerns, what would have been the fate of the Delhi city and the Keralites using the Konkan Railway route. Developmental projects like the Metro serve a larger section of people, reduce pollution and road fatalities, and save fuel. The trees that have been cut have to be replaced by way of compensatory afforestation which we have under taken (ten trees to one),” Sreedharan clarified.
The damage is wrought more due to this than sand mining, which can be easily prevented. “I live close to Bharatapuzha and see sand getting heaped in the middle of the river and wild grass growing all year on river beds, confining the river flow along the banks. This results in the banks getting eroded and the hydraulic regime getting unbalanced. If the heap of sand in the middle of the river is removed, the river flow can be centralised and the hydraulic regime maintained. This would call for controlled mining based on scientific management,” said Sreedharan.
The DMRC had demanded four lakh cubic metre of sand for the metro Rail work.
Metro Stakeholders Sign Pact
Kochi: The board of directors of KMRL which met in New Delhi on Monday reviewed the progress of the ongoing work. A tripartite agreement was also signed between the Centre, the state government and the KMRL on the occasion. KMRL chariman and Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna, Chief Secretary Bharat Bhushan and KMRL MD Elias George signed the agreement on behalf of the stakeholders. The tripartite agreement defines the roles and responsibilities of these institutions in the project.The board also approved the induction of Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) V Somasundaran in place of V P Joy as a director. Ministry of Urban Development Joint Secretary C K Khaitan, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd director D D Pahuja, DMRC director(business development) S D Sharma and other board members attended the meeting.