Flooding and threat to water bodies not subject to political debate, activist says

Activists are angered by political parties who hijack the myriad challenges posed by environmental degradation and pollution in the run-up to the Assembly elections, despite the devastation caused by the 2018 floods and unprecedented threats to water bodies and the Western Ghats.

It is shocking that environmental concerns do not even appear in political discussions, says the professor (retired). CM Joy, Chairman of the Kerala Nature Protection Council. “Leave the politicians alone, most people today are apathetic to threats to the environment due to unchecked consumerism and corporate greed. Newly formed parties, which speak of values-based politics, also most often avoid the subject for fear of being labeled as a “green party” or “anti-development”. Over the years, the assumption has gained ground according to which parties which defend the cause of the environment do not know how to govern, ”he adds.

According to Professor Joy, the situation is precarious in Ernakulam, where people depend on drinking water from the Periyar and Muvattupuzha rivers, which are severely polluted. For its part, the government has relaxed the standards for quarrying, while a large religious group wants the extent of the buffer zone around protected areas to be reduced by one kilometer. Such measures had the effect of returning to their hands much of the forest land which had been taken from invaders and real estate agents. Hotels and other vertical constructions in ecologically fragile land and covert moves to allow trawlers to net fish en masse are proof of the trend, he says.

Governments and even part of the population today seem indifferent to the need for a healthy environment, says Aziz Kunnapally, state coordinator of Green People, an NGO. Riparian vegetation, which helps purify water and air, is being destroyed at an alarming rate, under the guise of development. “A good example is the once pristine Muvattupuzha River where 14 hospitals and other facilities release untreated waste. Eleven panchayats and the city of Kochi depend totally or partially on it for drinking water, ”he adds.

Call to NOTA

Fed up with the foul stench and pollution of Kadambrayar caused by the dumping of garbage by the Kochi Company and other local organizations in Brahmapuram, around 1,000 affected families who reside in and around the Rajagiri Valley called on voters to exercise the NOTA option, to protest against the alleged apathy of the government and the company to find a lasting solution to the problem.

“People here have been suffering for 12 years. The government and the civic agency must ensure that there is no more stench in the premises, meeting the standards while spraying a compound on the huge pile of garbage, ”said Siju Remold, a resident of an apartment complex near the Kadambrayar. One permanent solution is to speed up the establishment of a waste composting plant. The NGT imposing a heavy fine on the company also did not push him to act, ”he said.

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