French agency raises ‘Green Concerns’ in Kochi

Kochi: The French team which visited Kochi as part of funding the extension of Kochi Metro rail on Thursday raised concerns over rehabilitation and mitigation measures taken so far on the basis of environmental impact assessment (EIA), according to sources.

But, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) authorities maintained that the French team was satisfied with what they have done on these two fronts.

Environmentalists and activists challenged the claims made by KMRL. According to greens, Metro authorities started the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study months after construction activities began as part of the project.

“The EIA study is not up to the mark. The study didn’t look into pollution caused by construction activities properly. The agency which conducted the study failed to suggest solutions as well,” environmentalist S Sitaraman said. “The study has been conducted only to secure loans from foreign funding agencies. They have also claimed that the project does not require environmental clearance from the ministry of forest and environment,” he said.

KMRL authorities confirmed that the French team had held discussions regarding environmental issues. “We have already taken proper measures to contain pollution and damages to the environment during the construction of the Metro rail,” an official with KMRL said.

“The French team was concerned mainly about water and air pollution. But both are well under control here,” he said. A detailed discussion on environmental issues by KMRL and AFD officials will continue on Friday.

According to environmentalists, water pollution due to the construction work is very high. “Construction waste, including cement waste, is being drained into Edappally canal. The waste is also being dumped into many wells and ponds in Edappally, Mamangalam, Kalamassery and Eloor,” Sitaraman said.

Air pollution has also jumped after the work started. “Suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the air was up to 130 microgram in Kochi before the work started. Now, the SPM has risen to 180 microgram. It should be noted that the maximum allowable SPM is 35 microgram as per international standards, and 65 as per the national standard,” he said