THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the growing number of Covid-19 cases keeps the authorities on their toes, the situation is being exploited by violators in the state capital to flout Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act at Akkulam-Veli. The lockdown restrictions and the ongoing pandemic are being used as a cover by private parties and contractors to indulge in landfilling in the area.
President of Environment Protection and Research Council (EPRC) Sanjeev S J alleged that massive destruction of the wetland and paddy land is under way at Akkulam while the authorities concerned are turning a blind eye. He further claimed that the residue from English India Clays Limited (EICL) and waste from construction sites are being dumped in the vicinity by vehicles without proper permission from the Mining and Geology Department. According to him, encroachment is happening in areas coming under Cheruvaikkal and Attipra village offices.
“There is a concentration of heavy earth movers in these areas, we have noticed massive destruction of the wetlands. Landfilling has become more rampant recently and we have taken this up with the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO). Trucks laden with waste and sand are depositing these in the lake and adjoining areas at the behest of private parties. We are certain that this is taking place with the knowledge of the local body and other departments concerned,” said Sanjeev. He added that there is visible violation of CRZ norms in the area opposite to SFS Water Scapes where a huge landfill site has surfaced. “These activities are happening at night with the consent of the authorities.”
As per 2014 survey records, the Akkulam lake sprawls across 64 hectares. However, the lake has shrunk drastically during the previous years because of rampant encroachment. Sanjeev alleged that highly influential private parties have bribed the authorities to carry out such activities. “After the Covid-19 outbreak, nobody is paying attention.
The authorities confiscate vehicles but violators pay the fine to have them released. This has been happening for a while now. The lake will be lost to the future generation if we don’t act now,” said Sanjeev. When contacted, an official of the district administration promised action. “Currently we are short-staffed as a few of our employees have gone into quarantine. We will look into the complaint and take necessary action,” said the official.