KOCHI: Chilavannoor lake, a prominent waterbody in the district, is on the cusp of death due to illegal encroachments and hyacinth. Adding to the woes is illegal dumping of non-biodegradable waste. However, the authorities are doing nothing. A survey conducted by the Revenue Department officials, following a Kerala HC directive, had found an encroachment of more than five acres, worth a total of Rs 10 crore, by 67 individuals.
Though the survey was completed a year ago, follow-up action is yet to be taken. Though officials cite legal hurdles for the delay, the public version is different. "High Court directive was the results of our petitions against encroachments by business establishments. Other than actions initiated against a few individuals, nothing much happened. The blame-game between the Kochi Corporation and district administration is another reason for the apathy," said Sujil, a resident of the area.
Revenue Department officials echo a similar sentiment. "The responsibility lies with the local self-government. The officials have pointed out a few major encroachments near Marad market and Thevara side. A meeting of stakeholder was convened by the then Fort Kochi sub-collector Adheela Abdulla. She requested the Corporation to allocate sufficient funds to initiate action. But, we are clueless about what happened after that," said a Revenue official. Interestingly, several buildings, including national-level builders were also brought under the survey.
Meanwhile, Kochi Corporation authorities have rubbished the allegations and claims to have taken action. "We have been taking action last year. Action against actor Jayasurya and a few others show the Corporation's commitment to the issue," says a Corporation official. Despite the constant queries made by Express, the Sub-collector, Fort Kochi, was unavailable for comment.
Projects for revival
On the other hand, projects like 'Padmasarovaram walkway' are in the pipeline to facelift the area and revive the lake. Kochi Corporation has assigned Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) as implementing agency for the project with an estimated cost of Rs 6.7 crore under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) Scheme.
The 2.5-km-long project consists of a walkway. A cycle track will come on the Sahodharan Ayyappan Road and Subash Chandra Bose Road stretch. But, the delay in widening the nearby roads has come as a hindrance to the project.
"We have brought necessary materials to the construction site. We are expecting to complete the works within a year," said KMRL spokesperson. The project also includes a playground, recreational facilities and sufficient parking space for the public. But, Corporation officials dismissed the possibility of boating facilities in the water body.