Thursday, October 28, 2010

Activists oppose plan to turn Coimbatore wetlands into parks

Green activists are fiercely opposing a Rs 127-crore proposal to turn the critical wetlands of Coimbatore into tourist parks. The eight lakes dotting the Coimbatore city provide shelter to migratory birds, especially painted storks and pelicans, but have now turned into a dumping yard for construction debris and sewage. 

The corporation, which recently took over the maintenance of the lakes from the Public Works Department on a 90-year-old lease, has received a proposal from a consortium of international consultancy agencies, Scott Wilson and Almondz, to "beautify" them with walk ways, bird parks, musical garden, herbal park, ayurvedic resort and children's play area. The proposal is for a 25-year-lease of the lakes for beautification and maintenance. Fifty per cent of the funds allotted for the project will be used on the lakes and tanks, while the rest will be used on the Sanganoor Canal. The canal runs parallel to the river Noyyal and originates from the Tadakam valley, which is close to Marudamalai. 

But environmentalists have shot down the proposal, saying any move to commercialize the project would harm the delicate ecological balance of the water bodies in the city. Corporation commissioner Anshul Mishra who held a meeting with environmentalists on Tuesday, said the civic body had no funds to maintain the lakes. "The corporation has not yet taken a final decision on the proposal. We will not decide without weighing the pros and cons," he said. 

But activists did not agree with the commissioner's explanation that the local body did not have enough funds to maintain the lakes. They said the local body should never have taken over the responsibility from the PWD as it did recently if it did not have enough funds. 

Activists also alleged that they were kept in the dark about the proposal in its initial stages. "No one in Coimbatore knows about the international agency. They should have tapped the local organizations before choosing the agency. We don't know what basis the agency was chosen," an activist said. 

Vanitha Mohan of Siruthuli, an NGO working for environment protection, said recharging of the ground water table was crucial in ensuring the health of water bodies. "The corporation has enough land to create entertainment centres. The eight lakes can be turned into lung spaces and trees could be planted along the water bodies," she said.

No comments:

Post a Comment