It calls for steps to protect river banks from encroachments
Environmental organisations in Kerala working for the protection of rivers have submitted a manifesto for river protection to all political parties contesting in the polls. One of their major demands is to protect river banks from encroachments.
The manifesto, which was submitted a few weeks ago, points out the need to measure all sources of water, including rivers and ponds, however small they are, and their banks and to clear encroachments.
The minimum distance of any construction activity from rivers should be strictly followed. River banks should be freely accessible to the public, and they should not be sanctioned for private parties at any cost, the manifesto said.
Construction works shall not be allowed on river banks. Instead, shore forests shall be preserved, and environment-friendly methods for the protection of river banks shall be adopted. Besides, levelling of paddy fields and wet lands should be checked, and construction activity on such plots should be stopped.
The manifesto urges political parties to prioritise agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, and environment. Projects should be formed for them, involving the next generation, so that they too get the benefits.
School syllabus should be revised giving more importance to environmental studies. Activities involving students such as afforestation and water conservation should be implemented.
The manifesto bats for proper implementation of the Madhav Gadgil report for the protection of Western Ghats.
At present, mining cannot be done within 50 metres of rivers. This limit should be increased to 100 metres. If anyone has already procured licence for mining within 100 metres of any river, the government should take it back, the manifesto added. Also, sand mining should not be allowed in rivers. The sand brought in by rivers during floods will be taken back by them gradually. There is not need of human intervention in it. The argument of the sand mining lobby that heaps of sand will lead to floods is childish and unscientific, it said.
The manifesto also suggested cancellation of the Kerala Minor Mineral Concession Rules and enact new ones in consultation with environmental scientists to put an end to anarchy in the mining sector.
The manifesto was discussed and prepared under the aegis of 44 organisations across the State. The response of political parties to the manifesto was, however, not very positive. While some did not pay heed to the demands, some agreed to hold discussions, but did not follow-up, the organisations said.
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