Deccan Chronicle

Kollam: Lake laid bare, so much fuss over development

Deccan Chronicle| Sham Mohammed

Published on: October 19, 2018 | Updated on: October 19, 2018

Around 8 acres of the Ashtamudi lake has been encroached and filled for the project.

Link road works under progress by filling Ashtamudi Lake.

Link road works under progress by filling Ashtamudi Lake.

Kollam: The construction works of the third phase of Ashramam Link road by filling some eight acres of Ashtamudi Lake violates the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms and is causing irreversible destruction to the ecology of this Ramsar site.

It also raises several eyebrows that the road is a symbol of corruption as a four-lane 13-km Kollam bypass is fast nearing completion to ease the city traffic.

The Rs. 114 cr Ashramam Link road extension undertaken by the PWD falls under the CRZ-1, under ecologically sensitive areas. The construction along these areas should be done only in pillars without affecting the tidal flow of water, which has been violated in the case of Link road extension.

The construction from Kollam KSRTC terminal to Thoppilkadavu via Olayil Kadavu is entirely through the Ashtamudi Lake. Pillars have been piled and erected in the Lake up to Olayil Kadavu as part of Phase III of the project. 

The Phase IV of the project is yet to begin and involves the construction of a flyover from Olayil Kadavu to Thoppilkadavu. Around 8 acres of the Ashtamudi lake has been encroached and filled for the project.

An environmentalist from Kollam, V.I. Rahul, has filed public interest litigation (PIL) with the Kerala High Court regarding the issue. 

"In the litigation, it has been pointed out that if the flyover is allowed to be constructed upon the Lake, it would severely affect the already disturbed and damaged ecosystem of the Ashtamudi wetland. Further, it will also severely affect the community living around the Lake," Mr Rahul told DC.

"The 3-km long proposed flyover being built to ease traffic congestion in a distance of 1.6 km – across Collectorate junction and Taluk Office junction – the area is a short-sighted ploy," he added. 

The Kerala High Court has issued a notice to the Government of Kerala and the respondents in the petition praying that the construction be stalled.

Meanwhile, the petitioner has also approached the State Information Commissioner for the indifferent approach by the PWD (roads and bridges) authorities in Kollam. 

The authorities had failed to reply for an RTI filed on July 31 regarding the construction works within the mandatory 30 days, but only on September 13, with a backdate of September 1. Moreover, the petitioner was even made to search files and take the copies on his own, without giving a receipt and refusing to attest those copies. Meanwhile, an RTI filed to the office of Kollam district collector on the same date, has not yet elicited any reply. 

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