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Survival at stake:An encroachment on the buffer zone of Sasthamcotta Lake. Rubber saplings are planted here.
KOLLAM: A recent survey by the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) reveals that the freshwater Sasthamcotta Lake continues to be encroached upon even as a strong campaign to protect the Ramasar site is under way.
Considerable portions of the lake had been encroached upon in the past.
The eight-month survey detected encroachments carried out less than four months ago. Most of the encroachments detected were on the 20-metre-wide buffer zone around the lake that was formally land marked with survey stones four years ago by the Kerala Water Authority.
The buffer zone was created when agitations by greens calling for steps to protect the lake peaked.
The KSSP survey found that sizeable portions of the buffer zone were in private hands, some of them as rubber plantations that had been fenced. These plantations did not exist at the time of creation of the zone, and the rubber saplings in them could not be more than two years old. In some areas, portions of the lake's bed visible where the lake had shrunk had been encroached upon for agriculture.
The survey said that if proper afforestation had been carried out in the buffer zone through a systematic forest management programme, the encroachments would not have taken place.
K.K. Appukuttan, chairman of the KSSP environment sub-committee, told The Hindu that the government's approach to Sasthamcotta Lake was devoid of the kind of seriousness that a Ramsar site warrants.
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