THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Owing to rampant landfilling of wetlands, several families living in proximity of Technopark Phase III continue to face flood threat. Repeated requests to the state government and the IT park to take over their land and protests have fallen on deaf ears. With the advent of monsoon, many families living on the land strip lying between the Thettiyar stream and Technopark Phase III have moved to the homes of their relatives or friends due to water-logging.
Though the Revenue Department had issued an order on June 12 directing the district administration to initiate steps to acquire close to 59.95 acres (148 cents) of land belonging to these families under the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act), the state government and the IT park are not in a position to comply with the order because of the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The order has come at a time when the phase III development activities have hit a roadblock following the Supreme Court’s direction to stop landfilling activities and maintain the status quo.
“The issue faced by these families is genuine. We assumed the state government would be taking over the land and giving families compensation. Right now, the Technopark is under financial strain. For the past three months, the park is neither generating any revenue nor getting any monetary support from the state government. We will need to evaluate this issue before taking a decision,” said Sasi Pilacheri Meethal, CEO of Technopark. According to him, revenue generation has come to a halt following the pandemic outbreak as the park has given exemptions to companies.
The overflowing Thettiyar stream and rampant landfilling to facilitate Technopork Phase III are making life miserable for around nine families. Ajayakumar R, one of the residents, said their houses are getting inundated after every rain as the rainwater from the park is flowing towards their homes. “We approached the government requesting it to take over our land and provide compensation for it. The government promised to do so after multiple protests. But the acquisition is yet to happen. We are facing a lot of issues because of the landfilling activities happening at Technopark Phase III. If our demands are not met, we will stage another protest soon,” said Ajayakumar.
Attipra ward councillor Suni Chandran said that every time flooding occurs, the families are moved to relief camps. “These families have been at the receiving end. A meeting was held mediated by Minister Kadakampally Surendran several months back. We want the Technopark to take over the land and give fair compensation to these families. They are struggling because of the development activities taken up by the Technopark, it should own up the responsibility to help these families. The authorities should either find a solution to the flooding or take over their land,” said Suni.