Environmentalists have opposed the Ashram link road project in Kollam district in Kerala as it falls within the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and is proposed to come up near the Ashtamudi Lake, a designated wetland. The area falls under CRZ-I and is a Ramsar site. This would require any construction activity by the Public Works Department to obtain permission from the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) under the CRZ Notification, 2011, as well as the state environment department as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. RTIs to the State Wetland Authority Kerala (SWAK) reveal that no environmental impact assessment has been done for the project and that no authority has approached SWAK seeking permission. RTIs filed to the KCZMA also reveal that no permission was taken for the construction of the road. Under Phase 3 of the INR 114-crore project, started on November 11, 2017, pillars were erected in the lake. As the construction enters Phase 4, it is estimated that eight acres of the wetland has been encroached upon and filled up for construction. Environmental activist Rahul V.I. filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the Kerala High Court against the encroachment of the lake. In the petition, he reportedly said that the Kollam bypass, which became operational on January 15, 2019, has made the need for the Ashram link road irrelevant. He also said in his PIL that construction of the road will severely affect the ecosystem of the Lake, which is already damaged due to the dumping of untreated sewage. On October 17, 2018, the court ordered a halt in construction and issued a notice to SWAK, KCZMA, District Collector, Kollam Municipal Authority, Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Public Works Department, state government and the Centre. The case was last heard on September 5, 2019.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Kerala Public Works Department, State Wetland Authority Kerala, Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Rahul V.I., environmentalist who filed the PIL petition
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