Kollam (Ker), Oct 2 (PTI) A massive drive has been launched by the Kerala government to clean and conserve the state's once scenic Ashtamudi Lake which is highly polluted due to dumping of sewage and encroachments.
After inaugurating a joint initiative of the Kollam corporation and Kollam district panchayat to clean the lake on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, state Finance Minister K N Balagopal said on Saturday that Ashtamudi lake, described as the gateway to Kerala's backwaters, will regain its lost beauty and adequate funds have been allocated for it.
Talking to PTI, he said the state government, in its previous budget, allocated Rs 500 crore in the first phase for rejuvenating water bodies across the state and a portion of this fund will be used for cleaning and rejuvenating the Ashtamudi lake facing the risk of permanent damage due to dumping of waste.
The Minister's statement comes a day after PTI, quoting a study by the state legal services authority KeLSA on the Kerala High Court's direction, reported that the lake in Kollam has become a dumpsite for sewage which is slowly choking it to death.
Balagopal said not only Ashtamudi lake, all water bodies in the state, including rivers, streams, ponds and canals, will be cleaned and rejuvenated for protecting their unique ecosystems, that is essential for the existence of the human race.
He said the state government's efforts to conserve the lakes and waterbodies could be possible only with the participation of people.
A week-long 'Ashtamudi lake clean up drive' launched here today is being done with the massive participation of various sections of the society including students, youths, ecologists and fishermen community, Balagopal said.
"Very pathetic" is how the Kerala State Legal Services Authority's (KeLSA) report to the High Court describes the condition of the lake spread over an area of around 1,700 sq km and surrounded by coconut groves and palm trees and dotted by several small islands.
The report has also said that sewage from nearby residences and government establishments was the main reason for pollution of the lake and also for putting its unique wetland ecosystem under risk of permanent damage.