Kerala: Techies against mall plans
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Days after the Rs 1200 crore Downtown Technopark project getting environmental clearance, the green activists have approached the district collector against the development project that involves mall, multiplex and offices in Technopark. One of the activists, based on a report sent by Attipra Agricultural officer to the RDO, says that the reclamation here will harm the environment. They claim that Downtown Technopark project threatens a part of the largest protected inland coastal wetland in the city that also includes a nine-acre pond.
The wetland was a known nesting, foraging and resting place for birds like Red Darter and Amur Falcon. It’s an extension of Akkulam-Veli ecosystem that has to be protected, says a plea by Mr Thomas Lawrence submitted Collector K Vasuki.
“The very idea of setting up Technopark was to house IT and ITES related companies. However, the office space in Downtown Techno-park project is hardly less than 10 percent of the total built-up area of 255,000 sqm. The developer Taurus Investment Holdings (TIH) is building multiplexes and shopping malls here. Action should be taken immediately towards the restoration of the already reclaimed area to its original form,” said a letter by Mr Thomas Lawrence, a US citizen who hails from Thiruvananthapuram.
Meanwhile, the Taurus group officials pointed out that the project is part of Technopark’s own development as the land was only being leased out to the company for few decades. “The argument that the area is environmentally sensitive is a farce and we have got sufficient environment clearances. The only hurdle we were facing was regarding a 19 cent land in the 22-acre project site. This small piece was apparently considered as an agricultural land (green belt) and now a government order has revised this status. The site was in the custody of Technopark for several years now. It’s strange that an opposition has come up as soon as the project actually began. It is already late,” said Mr Ajay Prasad, the country managing director of Taurus. Incidentally, a larger, private mall project was happening close to the Akkulam-Veli wetland ecosystem and green activists were yet to openly contend reclamation works for that project.