Vizhinjam seaport: plea for detailed EIA

To

Sri. Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India

New Delhi – 110 003

info.moef+canned.response@gmail.com

Respected Sir,

Sub: Request for Environmental Impact Assessment of the land acquired for road, railway connectivity and warehouse for Vizhinjam Sea Port International limited as conceived by Govt. of Kerala

 

Watchdog Committee on Climate Change (WCCC) is a People’s Forum for conducting studies on climate change and ecological issues related to livelihood and protect on the environment. We, on behalf of the people of the area, request you to order a   thorough environmental impact assessment study and refrain the Government of Kerala from acquiring land which is source of life and livelihood of the people of this area for infrastructural development of Vizhinjam Sea Port.

 

Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd. is a major undertaking of the Government of Kerala. The project has attracted national and international interest. It also has given rise to serious concerns over its environmental impact by activists.

 

The Watchdog Committee sought details of the above project under the Right to Information Act (RTI) but the authorities have given only partial answers. Moreover,   certain important details have not been revealed. This is a cause for concern and anxiety for the local people.

 

From our study and assessment, the project will cause serious environmental destruction and livelihood as well as affect food security of the people.  Hence, we are appealing to you to look into this matter and request you to take appropriate action as soon as possible.

 

Main Issues and concerns

1. The implementation of the project as presently conceived by the State Government will seriously endanger the drinking water sources of the people in the area. The project area mainly covers four Panchayats, namely, Vizhinjam (now Corporation area), Kottukal, Venganoor and Balaramapuram. The population of the surrounding area numbering around three lakhs depends on the water sources of this area particularly in Kottukal Panchayats. Currently Kottukal water bodies provide drinking water to residents of 9 Panchayats. The Special Land Acquisition authority appointed by the state has already started acquiring the water – rich lowlands of Kottukal. This was done without conducting environment impact study and we have raised this issue before the authorities. This however has failed to provide any answer to our concerns and demands.

 

2. The local land owners are only too willing to give away their land in exchange for the high price offered by the Government (Rs.2-3 lakhs per cent now for land which had market price of Rs 30,000/- only prior to the announcement of the project).

The issues involve are

(i).     The land owners are not aware of the possible implications, because no EIA has been conducted;

(ii).    The landless people who form the majority will be deprived of their livelihood and the existing water source.

 

3. There are only a few water sources remaining in the nearby Panchayats, such as the Gangayar Canal and Mulloor Canal in Vizhinjam and Chappath Canal in Kottukal. If the project gets implemented all these water sources also will wither away, with no water left for the people of this area.

In the light of the above facts therefore we appeal to you to take action to protect the water sources in the project area and ensure that the right of the people, particularly the poor and marginalized, the fisher folk, Dalits and their access to water and food is protected.

The Sea Port Authority has since replied to our query that EIA is being conduced by Chennai based L & T company. But please note that the special Thesildar has already acquired the land in this area and, without the EIA study, started construction activities in the disputed wetlands of Mulloor. This is a gross violation of human rights of the people of the area. This appears to be a fraud on the local people.

We therefore request that you initiate remedial action to protect the ecological wealth of the region.

 

4. We are not against development as such. Nor are we against the Vizhinjam International Sea Port Project. We only insist that development should not be at the cost of the  people – the poor and most needy.

We feel that it is possible to redesign the project without seriously ruining the local ecology. For instance, the warehouse now constructed in the wetland can be shifted to a less ecologically sensitive area such as on a hill. Instead of building new roads through the lowlands, the existing road can be widened or building new roads without affecting the ecologically sensitive lands. Only a thorough and detailed EIA can ensure the safety of the local ecology and livelihood of the locals.

In the light of the above, we appeal to you to order a detailed EIA by a competent agency, consisting of persons from multi-disciplinary, academic background, to protect the vital interests and basic human rights of the vulnerable sections of the local area.

 

With respectful regards,

Mulloor Surendran,

Convener, Study team

Watchdog Committee on Climate Change,

C/o School of Ecology, Santhigram

Kazhuvur P.O; Pulluvila-695 526

Thiruvananthapuram(Dt)

Kerala(State), South India

Phone: 0471- 2269780, 6452511

Email: santhigramkerala@gmail.com

Web:www.santhigram.org

 

Copy to:

1. The Secretary,

Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests,

Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110 003, INDIA

Telephone:+91-11-24360605,24360570, 24360519

email: envisect@nic.in

 

2. The Chairman,

Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Bhujal Bhawan,

NH-4, Faridabad, Haryana- 129 001    email:cgwb@nic.in

Tel: +91-129-2419106, Fax: 91-129-2412524

 

3. Dr. P.Nandakumar,

Regional Director(I/C), Central Ground water Board, Kerala Regional office

Kedaram Complex, Kesavadasapuram, Medical college P.O; Thiruvananthapuram – 695 011

Email:rdkr-cgwb@nic.in Phone:0471-2442191 (M)9447600566

 

4. Dr.George Chackacherry

CWRDM, Sub Centre, Neyyattinkara

Email:george.chackacherry@gmail.com (M) 9446404780

 

5. Dr. P.N.Premachandran

Aditional Director, Soil Survey Department

Govt. of Kerala, Chalai. P.O; Thiruvananthapuram-695 036

Email: pnp1soilsurvey@rediffmail.com

Ph: 0471- 2466145(O), (M) 9847138143

 

6. Dr. M. Baba

Director, CENTRE FOR EARTH SCIENCE STUDIES
P.B.No. 7250, Thuruvikkal P.O., Akkulam,

Thiruvananthapuram-695 031

 

7. Honorable Chairperson,

National Human Rights Commission,

Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi, PIN 110001

E-mail: covdnhrc@nic.in, ionhrc@nic.in

Tel.No. 23384012,Fax No. 23384863

 

8. The Chairman

Kerala State Biodiversity Board
Pallimukku, Pettah P. O. Thiruvananthapuram-695 024
E.mail:keralabiodiversity@gmail.com

Phone: 0471- 2740240
Tele/fax:0471-2740234

 

9. Justice N. Dhinakar

Honorable Chairperson

Kerala State Human Rights Commission,

M.P.Appan Road,Vazhuthacaud,

Thiruvananthapuram-695014

Fax: 0471-2337148

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