Kollam: The historic Buckingham canal, part of Fort Thomas in Thangasseri in Kollam, has been relegated into oblivion due to apathy by the authorities. The canal built some 450 years back by the Portuguese to transport consignments from ships calling at the Quilon port is now in the hands of encroachers. The heritage site that has shrunk to a mere stream needs immediate intervention to preserve its heritage value.
“The canal was once very wide as it was used for huge barges to dock in. This has now been shrunk into a small stream of water. In some parts, the canal has virtually disappeared. The encroachments are mainly by private parties and even resorts that tap the tourist value of the destination,” a local resident requesting anonymity told this newspaper. The canal has recently been encroached by a resort group, according to the local residents. The area commands a good real estate price and is quite attractive for real estate mafia also.
The district collector had recently issued a notice prohibiting reclamations and construction in the area, which was apparently been thrown to winds by the mafia. “The recent incident of encroachment was found to have done by a local resident who has land near to the canal. Based on the order from district collector, we have issued a stop memo. We have fixed the notice as he refused to accept it. He has been booked under the Land Conversation Act case and a report has been handed over to the Tahsildar,” said Sreekumar G.S., the Kollam West village officer.
The taluk surveyor has been given direction to fix the boundaries of the canal after which action will be taken against the encroachers, he added. The Buckingham canal was built by the Portuguese about 450 years ago inside the Fort Thomas near Thangasseri. The canal that channelled inside the Fort was used for transportation of merchandise to and from the ships that called at the ancient Quilon port. After Portuguese, the Dutch captured the Fort from the Portuguese. The canal was later known as the Buckingham Canal when the Dutch surrendered it to the British East India Company in 1795.