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Environmentalist goes on hunger strike

Staff Reporter

Call to stop hill demolition, wetland reclamation



AGITATION MODE: Environmental activist Bhaskaran Vellur on indefinite fast in Kannur on Monday demanding steps to check conversion of hillocks and paddy fields in the district.

KANNUR: An environmental activist, Bhaskaran Vellur, secretary of the Kannur Jilla Paristhithi Samiti, began an indefinite hunger strike at the Stadium Corner here on the eve of the World Earth Day demanding that the Government stop all hill demolition and wetland filling activities till a legislation banning reclamation of hills and fields was introduced.

His other demands included ban on planting in field cash crops such as coconut, arecanut and rubber, use of earth-movers to demolish hills and enforcement of restrictions on construction materials.

Mr. Vellur said that a serious environmental disaster was waiting to happen here as developers continued to level midland laterite hillocks and fill the paddy fields and wetlands with the soil from the demolished hills. The hillocks and the paddy fields/wetlands, that were reservoir of water in an area, were rapidly disappearing from the rural landscape. He said that the decision to go on an indefinite fasting strike was taken as the authorities were yet to take any initiative to check what he called a serious threat to the environment. The Samiti had even submitted representation to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan highlighting the serious environmental issues involved in large-scale demolition of hillocks and reclamation of the fields, he said. The Samiti activists, who were engaged in the campaign against the conversion of the hillocks, paddy fields/wetlands, said that dozens of excavators and tipper lorries, which were involved in the reclamation works, were wreaking havoc on the ecologically sensitive hillocks and water-logged areas. Citing hydrological importance of the hillocks, the Samiti activists said that these were also ecosystems for many plants and animals. A `lobby' of developers and contractors was behind these activities, they said adding that absence of an effective law was also accelerating the conversion of the hillocks, paddy fields and wetlands.

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