Keezhattoor : NCHRO calls on government for inclusive sustainable development and to protect and respect environmental rights.
Keezhattoor, Kannur, Kerala
Farmers of Keezhattur village in Kerala’s northern district of Kannur who have been in agitation under the aegis of ‘Vayalkilikal’ against a proposed National Highway bypass. The villagers’ claims that the proposed road would destroy 250 acres of paddy fields, destroy wetlands, lower the water table, affect their livelihood, also upset the eco system, and overall environmental degradation.
Surrounded by hills on three sides, the Keezhattoor valley stores abundant water during the monsoon. The soil is ideal for paddy cultivation, which in turn prevents depletion of the water table. In the peak summers, tankers draw water from the ponds and wells of Keezhattoor to supply drought-hit places nearby. Prominent writer and social activist Umesh Babu, who himself had worked with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) as assistant executive engineer, said that the bypass could be constructed without destroying the paddy fields.
NCHRO delegation led by NCHRO Kerala Chapter President, Vilayodi Shivankutty visited Keezhattoor and urged the government to stop the bypass survey until the villagers concerns are settled. An ecological impact study should be conducted and published. Government should recognize the environment as a public interest that states have a responsibility to protect and to promote sustainable development.
Around the world, the space for civil society participation in development is shrinking, as governments and corporate actors restrict fundamental freedoms and limit the ability of communities to access information and to engage in development processes. Those who speak out about development and investment activities or struggle to defend their lands, environment, and human rights, are often threatened, criminalized or subjected to violence.
A recent comprehensive environmental study undertaken by the UN found that the degradation of the world’s natural resources by humans is rapidly outpacing the planet’s ability to absorb the damage, meaning the rate of deterioration is increasing globally.
Those who struggle to protect planet and people should be recognized, but the sad fact is that many are paying a heavy price with their safety. The struggle for the environment that is our right and treating the global environment and climate as the common concern of humanity.