TechnoparkToday: The state government remains firm in its position that the expansion of Dragonstone Realty Pvt Ltd’s mixed land use project in Technopark phase-3 does not encroach upon any wetlands. This comes in response to the recent cancellation of the project’s environment clearance (EC) by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which was a significant setback for the government.
In presenting its arguments, the government emphasized that the project site is paddy land rather than wetland. The appellant in the case had raised concerns about the lack of independent assessment by the state expert appraisal committee (SEAC) and state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) prior to the issuance of the EC, as wetlands are not suitable for construction projects. In its defense, the government referred to the land acquisition notification for the phase-3 expansion, which described the land parcels as ‘nilam’ (paddy field), ‘nilam nikathu purayidam’ (reclaimed paddy field), or ‘purayidam’ (dry land).
Furthermore, the government stated that the paddy lands in question had not been cultivated for an extended period of time. It highlighted that the land had been exempted from the Kerala Conversion of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2008 (Amendment) Act of 2018 through a government notification. Referring to a report by the Attipra agricultural officer, the government pointed out that the acquired land was an abandoned paddy field that had already been reclaimed by planting coconut trees. However, these coconut trees were unproductive as well.
The government emphasized that there has been no cultivation on the acquired land for over two decades, and that no lands in the vicinity of Technopark phase-3 are currently used for paddy cultivation. To support its argument, the government cited satellite images from 2003, 2006, and 2011, which clearly indicated the absence of any waterbodies meeting the definition of a lake on the project site.
While awaiting official confirmation on the next steps following the NGT order, sources suggest that the government plans to file an appeal.
With the land’s nature firmly established, the government will now shift its focus to addressing concerns regarding the cumulative impact assessment of the project. Previously, the state government had dismissed objections to the land conversion for the development of the Technopark phase-3 campus and allegations of wetland destruction in the process.