Akkulam Lake degradation continues amid delays from Kerala government

Despite awarding the rejuvenation project to Hyderabad-based Sri Avantika Contractors Ltd. in October 2022, technical hurdles from the tourism department delayed project commencement.
Akkulam lake in Thiruvananthapuram
Akkulam lake in Thiruvananthapuram Photo | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Akkulam Lake, a once-popular backwater tourist spot in the heart of the state capital, continues to suffer from widespread encroachment and severe pollution, exacerbated by neglect from authorities. The long-pending Akkulam Lake rejuvenation project recently sparked political controversy when former tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran called out in the assembly the delays in its execution.

Akkulam lake in Thiruvananthapuram
Akkulam lake rejuvenation project in limbo

Initiated by the tourism department in 2018, the comprehensive rejuvenation plan received Rs 96 crore sanction from KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Financial Board). Despite awarding the rejuvenation project to Hyderabad-based Sri Avantika Contractors Ltd. in October 2022 under the Design-Build-Operate-Transfer (DBOT) model, technical hurdles from the tourism department delayed project commencement.

“Delays mounted as the tourism department insisted on finalising operation and maintenance contracts before starting work,” said a source. Additional delays ensued as a technical committee was convened to assess the project’s water rejuvenation partner company. The tourism department has reportedly asked for two more weeks to form a technical committee to evaluate the project.

“We have invested over Rs 6 crore in preparatory work, awaiting government permission to proceed,” said a spokesperson from Sri Avantika Contractors Ltd., expressing hope for a decisive government decision.

Studies indicate a concerning 31.06% reduction in the lake’s area since 1942, with recent surveys showing a further 9.86% decline, shrinking the water body to 64 hectares.

Akkulam Kayal Samrakshana Samithi coordinator Prasad Somarajan emphasised the urgent need for action, citing a memorandum submitted to the district collector two months ago. “In the 1950s, Akkulam Lake spanned over 245 acres; today, it barely covers 145 acres,” Somarajan said, underscoring over Rs 100 crore spent by the state government in the past decade on biodiversity protection and tourism at the lake.

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