Encroachments on Periyar go unchecked

Kochi: Periyar, the drinking water source of Kochiites, is witnessing large-scale encroachments resulting in reduction in the overall area of the river.
This has come as a blow to the river which is facing the twin issues of sand-mining and pollution. The departments of revenue, irrigation or the local bodies are yet to undertake an extensive survey on the extent of encroachment. Environmentalists say a total of 175 acres have been encroached on the Malayattoor-Aluva stretch of Periyar alone.
“These departments or local bodies have no idea about the boundaries of rivulets, rivers or backwaters. To make the encroachments legal, now masonry (granite) embankment is being done in the name of protecting rivers by spending from the River Protection Fund,” said Prof S Seetharaman, vice-president, Kerala River Protection Council.
Interestingly, the lead for the encroachment was given by the District administration some six years ago by allowing its own DTPC to construct a hotel in the flood plane of Periyar near Manalppuram.  Encroachment became rampant since and the constriction of the flood plane of the river due to sand-mining abetted the process.
The appreciation in the value of land abutting the river up to `10 lakh per cent has also aided the act. “The real estate lobby too is active, especially near Aluva market and Companyppadi,” Seetharaman said. He said that encroachment is active in Chembakassery kadavu, Thottumugham,
Poorna ghat in Kalady, Keezhmadu and Kuttamassery. The encroachers include a religious institution and a prominent politician.

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