Less birds, olive riders nesting in Thottappally
Environmentalists and bird watchers were delighted to discover a good number of blue-cheeked bee-eaters nesting in a sandpile near Thottappally harbor, possibly for the first time in this part of the region, in May-June 2020.
They were so thrilled that members of the Green Roots Nature Conservation Forum, a Thottappally-based conservation group, erected a temporary fence around the sandpile to protect some 35 nests and 70 birds.
This year, too, migratory birds have come to Thottappally, but fewer in number as environmentalists worry about “indiscriminate” mineral sand mining in the estuary.
“So far we have only noticed three nests and less than 10 birds. Some of the sand that served as their nesting place last year has been removed. In addition, the place is now filled with the noise of excavators engaged in the extraction of mineral sand. At present, there are hardly any favorable conditions for birds to nest and breed in Thottappally, ”said Saji Jayamohan, secretary of the forum.
After a lull, the dredging and removal of mineral-rich sand from the estuary has been restarted recently. Officials say the sand is being removed to ensure a smooth flow of floodwater from Kuttanad into the sea.
Local people, however, say that while they are not against the dredging of the estuary in a limited way, they are opposed to the transport of mineral sand.
They allege that the government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand mining in the name of flood mitigation, which they say has serious consequences for people living along the coast and the degradation of the l ‘environment. The removed sand was transported to the Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited unit in Chavara.
In addition to being a nesting site for migratory birds, the coast of Thottappally has long been one of the main nesting sites for olive ridley turtles, which are legally protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
“Mineral sand mining was first started in Thottappally harbor in the last decade in the name of its development. Last year, the government extended mining to the nearby Thottappally estuary. The actions pose a major threat to turtle nesting and catastrophic spelling for the region’s ecology. This time around we only came across five Olive Ridley nests throughout the season, ”says Jayamohan.