KOCHI: In a unique protest, a group of around 500 persons including social activists, fishermen and their families stalled an attempt to encroach into the backwaters at Vypeen on Thursday.
The protesters, under the banner Mochanolsavam, removed 60 concrete pillars erected in the backwaters for construction, encroaching 27.5 acres.
The protest was inaugurated by former Revenue Minister and AITUC general secretary K P Rajendran.
The three plots of 11.5 acres, 13 acres and 14.5 acres were handed over to fishermen by former Revenue Minister Baby John in 1976, on condition it would be used only for fishing.
“In January this year, the encroachers started fencing the area, and even employed goons to guard it,” said Dileep Elamkunnapuzha who led the protest. “Then, the activists met Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan and submitted a memorandum with details of the encroachment into the backwaters,” he said.
The minister had issued an emergency order asking the Collector to stop construction activities in the backwaters immediately. “The Sub-collector issued a stop memo. A resurvey will be conducted on April 6 and 7,” he said. The pillars were demolished at the behest of the police in a ‘festival-like atmosphere.’
The state government had submitted before the Kerala High Court encroachment was rampant in the Vembanad backwaters. “Around 300 violations have been detected in the Ernakulam and Kottayam districts. According to the Kochi Corporation secretary, 33 cases of CRZ violation were registered, and notices were served on the land owners to produce NOC from the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority,” it was submitted.