Wayanad: Environment organizations in Wayanad have slammed the CPM-led LDF government for giving environmental clearance to over 40 constructions as well as quarrying projects in ecologically sensitive spots.
The greens came down heavily on the state government for transforming the State Environmental Impact Assessment Agency (SEIAA) into a mere puppet and playing second fiddle to the quarry and real estate mafia.
The sharp criticism came in the wake of a recent recommendation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MEFCC), to initiate action against SEIAA-Kerala for issuing environmental clearance to a multi-crore realty project in Kozhikode, violating all norms.
The stage has been set for massive environmental destruction, Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithy (WPSS) president N Badusha said in a press release.
“All environment clearances (EC) have been awarded without conducting any proper inquiry, sans any public hearing, and without the visit of experts. Details of such projects would be available on the website only when the EC is awarded”, the release said.
Badusha said that if the forty projects given to EC start operations, Wayanad would be reduced soon into a graveyard.
“The website of the agency was defunct until recently and the details of applications for controversial projects would appear on the website only after final clearance”, he said.
“Clandestine moves by the Chief Minister's office are afoot to approach the Supreme Court against the NGT order,” Badusha said.
Irate public in agitation mode
At Moonnanakkuzhy, a village near Sulthan Bathery, people are already up in arms against such a project and have formed an action council to pursue further action. The people of the village are also planning to approach NGT as the project would wreak havoc for the paddy fields, flora and fauna, and the environmentally sensitive topography of the region.
Recently SEIAA had given clearance to a granite quarry at Valaramkunnu in the Kadachikunnu area of extremely sensitive Mooppainad panchayat. It was earlier closed down by the District Collector in her capacity as the chairperson of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), as the quarry was operating in a red category zone of extremely sensitive landmass.
WPSS has also demanded the union government take strict action against all members of SEIAA and also cancel all the EC issued by these members.
Green Artist laments of massive destruction of nature
Renowned artist Paris Mohan Kumar, who is implementing various environmental restoration projects in Wayanad, said that mafia goons are issuing diktats to officials in the district.
When he refused to sell his tiny piece of land for a project on an environmentally sensitive spot near Mananthavadi, these goons encroached on his property, uprooted trees, and damaged fences in broad daylight.
“It took me a prolonged legal battle to ensure its protection,” Kumar told Onmanorama.
Kumar lamented that land sharks have already possessed almost all ecologically sensitive spots of the Western Ghats in Wayanad.
Interestingly, the NGT Southern Bench had declared invalid the Environment Clearance granted by SEIAA on March 12, 2020, to a project (Landmark Trade Centre project of Calicut Landmark Builders and Developers India Pvt Ltd) at Pantheeramkavu village of Kozhikode district. In its order issued on September 11, NGT had also directed the secretary of MoFECC to initiate action against all members of SEIAA who were involved in the process of issuing clearance. NGT also ordered a proper inquiry into the role of all the members who were party to the decision in violation of all existing norms.
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