KOCHI: Pressure is mounting on the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to act tough on violations of waste discharge into the Periyar River. The stretch of river between Edayar and Eloor industrial zone turned rust-red, a few metres upstream of the Pathalam regulator-cum-bridge, last Monday. The environmental engineer at the Eloor unit of KSPCB P B Sreelekshmi said samples have been sent for analysis, and the results should be available by Monday.
“Preliminary analysis revealed the pH and dissolved oxygen to be normal; detailed analysis will reveal the status of dissolved chemicals, if any,” said Sreelekshmi, adding stringent action will be taken if an industrial unit is found to be the source of the pollution.
Mahesh Kumar, a resident of Eloor and a local activist with Janajagratha, said however, the KSPCB turning a blind eye to the violations committed is a perennial problem. “It’s clear that some of the industrial units are not adhering to the prescribed effluent treatment process directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT),” said Mahesh, pointing out a powerful lobby of industry-political nexus has dodged issues of environmental concerns on a regular basis. Edayar Small Scale Industries Association (ESSIA) president Sojan Joseph said the PCB can easily single out the source of the pollution.
“If it’s one of the 300-odd small scale industries in Edayar or the few large-scale units at Eloor, the association will take strict action against defaulters,” he said. He added the majority of the units adhere to the pollution norms prescribed by the government agencies.
Mahesh adds the colouration of the water persisted even after the shutter of the regulator-cum-bridge was opened. “Less than 2 km upstream, a KWA pump house sources water for distribution to various panchayats in Ernakulam,” he pointed out. Highlighting the imminent danger, he said the KWA purification process only involves sands filtration and chlorination, and is not equipped to filter out dissolved chemicals.
A recent study by the School of Marine Sciences of Cusat revealed the increased heavy metal content in the Kochi estuarine system is adversely affecting fish and other aquatic organisms. The NGT had directed the Central PCB and KSPCB to prepare an action plan to reduce the impact of industrial effluents in water bodies in Eloor and Edayar industrial area in Kochi.