Inching closer to decimation in Thiruvananthapuram

The wetlands near Akkulam Lake are being filled at an unprecedented rate, raising concern about a massive  repurcussion for the entire city. 

Published: 13th April 2019 07:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2019 07:31 AM   |  A+A-

The decimated lakesides of Akkulam

The decimated lakesides of Akkulam

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Inland Navigation Department has initiated investigation into the alleged filling up of the Akkulam lakesides. A team of officials will visit the area on Monday. The team is expected to verify the alleged filling up of coastal wetlands and initiate steps to stop illegal activities. Action will be undertaken by invoking the Water Conservation Act, an official attached to the department has said. 

"Action will be taken based on the Water Conservation Act. We will stop this filling up of the coastal wetlands wherever it is being carried out. We also have to ascertain the boundary of the lake and see if it is being encroached upon,” said Bindu CS, assistant executive engineer, Inland Navigation Directorate. She was part of a team which visited the lake on Thursday following a complaint raised by the members of the Environmental Protection and Research Council (EPRC).

The coastal wetlands of Akkulam are being decimated by the day, with frenzied filling up of the lakesides using debris, plastic and thermocol waste.  The lakeside lying opposite to the stretch extending from the Southern Air Command (SAC) to the Akkulam Bridge is being filled up with waste and soil at an unprecedented rate. 

The stretch is dotted with heaps of sand and waste mixture, all waiting to be eased into the wetlands.
On Thursday, the team of officials also came across a tipper which was trying to fill up the coasts of the lake with mud and intercepted it. “We carried out the visit following a complaint. On inspecting, we found that they didn't have the geological permit to deposit the mud there. We stopped the activity yesterday. We have noticed that sanitary waste such as tiles and plastic waste was used to level the areas so the truck could pass through easily. These are violations,” an official said. 

The filling up of wetlands can lead to the reduction of the original basin capacity. The lake and the adjacent wetland system is at the receiving end of illegal reclamation activities since long, said Sanjeev S J, a member of EPRC which had taken up the issue with the inland department.

“The filling is happening at a very fast pace, now that focus is on the elections. In some places, they have filled up the wetlands and raised it up to three meters, which is enough to cause an environmental disaster. This is not the total extent of the lake. This is the summertime, and the lake's correct area cannot be ascertained,” said Sanjeev, pointing to the lake, the sides of which have been filled up. “We need to have a buffer zone surrounding the lake. If this activity isn't stopped, then the lake can disappear soon. For a state which witnessed floods, this kind of activity is only adding to the state's environmental problems,” he said.

Illegal lake reclamation can have large scale repercussions to the state which witnessed a massive flood last year, says John C Mathew, environment programme manager, environment directorate, State Environment Department. 

“Wetlands are of crucial importance, however small they may be. Such activities can lead to a plethora of issues including flooding and inundation in addition to issues with groundwater recharging.If the level of the fresh groundwater drops, then the water pressure also drops. This water pressure is important to prevent any kind of saltwater inflow,” he added.

An environmental disaster

The coastal wetlands of Akkulam are being decimated by the day, with the frenzied filling up of the lakesides using debris, plastic and thermocol waste.  The lakeside lying opposite to the stretch extending from the Southern Air Command (SAC) to the Akkulam Bridge is being filled up with waste and soil at an unprecedented rate. The stretch is dotted with heaps of sand and waste mixture, all waiting to be eased into the wetlands. A team of officials also came across a tipper which was trying to fill up the coasts of the lake with mud and intercepted it.

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