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VYPEEN island, about 21 km long
and 2 kno wide, recently made news
with the formation of an island development authority which plans to build a
bridge connecting it to mainland.
Situated north of the Kochi fort, t
Kochi kayal (Kochi backwaters) sel
rates Vypeen from Ernakularn city
With the Goshree Islands Develepment Authority (61DA) formed in
by the Kerala government, an estimated
80,000 islanders who ferry to and I
from Ernakularn hoped that the
decades-long demand for a bridge
But when details of the Rs 506-cr
Goshree project were forma
announced, many foresaw largesc
environmental degeneration and
land deal possibilities with the project
The 3-phase GIDA plan includes
construction of 6 bridges and intensive
tourist infrastructure by reclaiming
about 362 ha of backwaters
Thanthonni, Botghatty and Vallarpa
dam islands between Vypeen and
While considering the importance
of the Kochi backwaters as a buffer zone
between the Arabian Sea and the
Vembanad lake, environmentalists
not support any further reclamation
this waterbody. Available statistics
that the lake has already reduced
12,700 ha from 36,500 ha at the end
the last century.
Now, the GIDA plan intends
convert 362 ha of the waterbody
reclaimed 'real estates'. The plan envisages dredging of a large area for building.
Bridges affecting salinity intrusion from
The sea and also talks of developing the
Cherayi beach inVypeen as a tourist center.
Jacob Vadakkamcherry, general secretary of 'Swaraya Vyapeen', a voluntary organization, siid, "it is evident that the
busiam deal. A group of
tly behind this
we eviden institute had green signaled project.
These studies, however, are insufficient for implementing the Goshree project feel P K Raveendran, state president, Kerala Sastra Sahitya
Parishad (Kssp), and a Vypeen resident.
But under salvos over the recent
months, GIDA authorities have softened
their reluctance to admit the
seriousness of environmental aspects behind the
On July 17, Ernakulam's district collector declared that the GIDA plan
Would be reviewed, taking into account criticisms levelled against it. He assured that all relevant documents would be made
available for public scrutiny, and
hinted that only minimum backwater area
would be reclaimed. The Kerala high
court underlined in its strong verdict
on a petition filed by the Kssp to uphold
the right of the citzens to know the plan's
Protestors were surprised to note
that the Union ministry of environment and forests had issued a
clearance to the project which recommended a physical model and a
computer-based simulation study by a
national hydrological institute, unfulfilled by GIDA. The study would take
at least 8 months to complete. And
only now, the study - costing Rs 4.5
lakh - by the Central Water Power
Research Station, Pune, has begun.
Although laying of the project's
foundation stone by the Prime Minister
sometime in September/October is
expected to be postponed, Kerala chief
minister A K Anthony, while chairing
the 4th general council meeting of the
GIDA council on August 16, dispelled
fears that the project's implementation
will be delayed.