Steps will be intensified against illegal filling of Kottuli wetland

In the absence of a permanent monitoring system, illegal land filling is still going on around the Kottuli wetland area. , Photo credits: K. Ragesh

Illegal dumping and reclamation activities around the 200-acre Kottuli wetland are likely to be exposed soon as the Kerala Legislative Committee on Environment decides to identify such spots with the support of government departments and initiate follow-up measures for their protection .

Areas filled in for commercial or real estate purposes will be restored to their previous condition as part of measures against illegal conversion of wetlands.

The committee, headed by EK Vijayan, MLA, recently visited some places following complaints from environmental organizations and activists. It was found that the complaints were genuine, and focused action, led by the district administration, was necessary to put an end to the practice.

The committee asked the authorities to submit a separate project report for conservation of encroached wetland properties. They were also directed to set up a strong monitoring mechanism under which illegal conversion or sale of wetland areas by private land owners would be curbed.

Though revenue squads had taken legal steps against wetland encroachment and illegal land filling, the inconsistency in follow-up measures allegedly turned favorable to illegal realtors. In addition, efforts were made to set up make-shift sheds at some prominent places in the city and after filling the land, efforts were made to plant saplings.

“Some realtors are very eager to deal with the purchase or sale of wetland properties with an eye on a huge commission. They mislead new buyers by claiming that the category of land can be easily changed with the support of government officials is,” said a resident of Kottuli, who was earlier with the revenue department. He said people looking for affordable homes often fall prey to such agents.

Meanwhile, a city-based People’s Committee working for the Protection of Civil Rights has alleged that vested interest groups have tried to force the government to acquire the wetland area at a higher rate for its protection. I went. The committee claimed that a state-level probe would unearth attempts by some realtors to buy huge patches of wetlands in advance, hoping for monetary gains.