KOCHI: Concerned over the state of Vembanad Lake, which remains a cesspool of industrial effluents and city waste, the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Science and Technology, Environment and Forest, has directed the principal secretary of the State Environment Department to submit an action taken report and an action plan to save the Ramsar site.
Dr Aswini Kumar, chairman of the PSC, said that the committee was 'deeply concerned' about the state of water bodies there. The committee had suggested a few measures to improve the condition of Vembanad Lake during its earlier sitting in Kochi.
"But the water bodies remain the same. We told them to submit an action taken report and an action plan for the future," the PSC chairman said. "If the secretary flouts the assurances given to the PSC, it will amount to contempt of the committee and the Parliament," he warned.
Dr Aswini Kumar suggested an online portal to be set up for public view on the health of Vembanad ecosystem by CSIR and National Institute of Oceanography at the earliest supported by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. Stating that the open waste dumping yards in the city were an 'eyesore,' the PSC recommended a new waste treatment plant to manage city waste. It also directed the state government to cover the waste dumped in the open at Kalamassery and Brahmapuram within three months.
Going by the suggestions of some NGOs, the PSC chairman noted that nearly 3.5 ha belonging to the BPCL was lying unused near the Mangalavanam Bird sanctuary and if the public sector oil company was willing to part with it to expand the sanctuary, it would greatly benefit the environment. The committee will give recommendations on the proposal, he said.
Dr Aswini Kumar said that the committee had taken note of the complaint that more than 1,400 trees had been felled for the Kochi Metro Rail work, as against the earlier stipulation that only 440 trees needed to be cut. The PSC demanded the environment secretary to file a report on the same and asked him to see to it that "not one more tree is cut" for the work.
The committee received suggestions from 31 NGOs on the proposed Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill 2015.
"Some NGOs pointed out that the very word afforestation is erroneous as the forest cannot be recreated or replaced," Dr Aswini Kumar recalled and said that he also agreed with that view. A separate committee under the PSC will be formed to look at the detailed suggestions by various public groups.