The attempts of the Kochi Corporation to further reclaim the wetlands at Brahmapuram, where it had reclaimed large tracts of wetlands earlier, have suffered a setback.
The State-Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) on Kerala Wetlands Act, 2008, which met online on Saturday, rejected the proposal of the civic body to reclaim 32 hectares for setting up a waste-to-energy plant.
In his presentation seeking permission for the reclamation, the Corporation Secretary had identified five sites covering 32 hectares. However, the members of the panel pointed out that the civic body had in its possession around 15 acres of solid land reclaimed earlier, where the plant could be set up.
The meeting pointed out that the civic body could not prepare a master plan for waste management. The panel asked the Corporation to come up with a detailed plan after which the proposal for reclamation shall be considered, said sources.
The State government had earlier cleared 20 acres of wetland at Brahmapuram for reclamation by notifying it as a public project. An amendment introduced to the Wetland Acts had empowered the government to exempt any reclamation proposal from the ambit of the Act if it was for public purposes. Incidentally, the amendments helped the government secure the wetland for conversion though the SLMC had declined the permission for land conversion.
While declining permission for conversion in 2018, the SLMC had pointed out that conversion would lead to ecological damage in the region. The committee had highlighted the possibility of lowering of the water table in areas near paddy fields and shortage of drinking water in nearby areas. The panel had also asked the civic body to make use of the 15-acre dry land in its possession for the plant rather than going in for reclamation.
The Corporation approached the SLMC with the proposal for reclamation even as it had not made use of the 20-acre holding for which it had obtained the permission, said sources. The Corporation Secretary, who made the presentation, was not available for comment.