Santhosh and Sanoj, two farmer brothers from Thrissur, had taken 56 acres of land for a lease period of five years to cultivate paddy.

news Environment Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - 11:58

Santhosh PC and Sanoj PC, two farmer brothers from Thrissur district of Kerala, had taken 56 acres of land for a lease period of five years to cultivate paddy. The land, which is adjacent to Thrissur-Ernakulam Highway in Kuttanalloor (Thrissur), was barren for almost 12 years. In early 2019, they eventually turned it into arable land. In February this year, 25 acres of land will be ready for harvesting. However, the remaining 31 acres of paddy field, which were ready to be harvested in March, has dried up.

According to the farmers, the fields dried up after sewage waste was regularly dumped there, at least twice a week. “Since the last 12 years, a portion of the land had been a dumping yard. The agencies that have taken the tenders to dispose of faecal sludge from septic tanks of flats in Thrissur and Ernakulam dump it here,” Sanoj claimed.

The two brothers have been leasing out barren lands in different parts of Thrissur and converting them into agricultural fields for years. Santhosh has even won two state agricultural awards. “We have been doing paddy cultivation not just to gain profit, but also out of environmental concerns,” Sanoj told TNM.

When Santhosh and Sanoj took the 56 acres of land near the highway on lease in January 2019, they were aware of the waste dumping problem there. They believed it would stop once the land was turned into agricultural land. “It continued even after we started cultivation,” Sanoj said. By mid-November, they noticed that the paddy was drying up.

According to Sanoj, a large portion of the paddy has dried up as the waste contains acid content. He also alleged that there is sewage waste content in the wells in the neighbouring areas as well. “It is not just paddy fields, but these wastes are being dumped in large quantities in the neighbouring areas, too. As a result, the water in the wells has a foul smell,” he said.

Apart from sewage waste, slaughter waste and plastics are also being dumped widely on the land, he claimed. “A number of copper plates, which were earlier used as number plates for houses, were thrown onto the field. When we entered the field barefoot, we suffered cuts and had to get stitches,” Sanoj said.

“As the field has dried up and the problem of waste disposal continues, we have no idea how to move forward,” he added.

Last week, Chief Whip and Ollur MLA K Rajan visited the field and told the media that immediate action will be taken against the miscreants.

"We will install surveillance cameras around the land. If action cannot be taken under the Indian Penal Code against the violators, we can use the Panchayat Raj Act against them. We have asked the district a