Groundwater pollution haunts Mayanad residents

Mayanad, a village next to Kozhikode Medical College Hospital has been fighting a 3-decade long battle to prevent contamination of its groundwater due to effluents from the hospital.

Published: 10th October 2019 04:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2019 04:48 PM   |  A+A-

The oxidation pit filled with toxic waste from Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: "My father P Narayanan Nair has been fighting this injustice meted to the natives of Mayanad  from the 1980s and now, I have been at the forefront of it for the sake of our future generation here," says the frail-looking 56-year-old PT Venugopal while showing, a slime-filled  pit where the untreated wastewater from KMCH is left to settle in with no scientific treatment. The Mayanad Parisara Malineekarana Nirmarjana Samithi (MPMNS), a group which was formed by residents, after a two years fight in the High Court,  did succeed in getting the court to sanction a sewage treatment plant in 2008. But the locals questions the efficiency of the treatment plant which was commissioned in 2015, nine years after the court order.

"The court verdict had demanded for 4 MLD Sewage treatment plant (STP) but what was commissioned was only 2 MLD.  To add to the woes, as the hospital expanded, the plant has minimal capacity to treat the biochemical effluents," says Sugathan, T former secretary of MPMNS. Sugathan also said that the early system has 7 point filtration before the water reached Mayanad. Today, all these age-old systems have disappeared due to the level of expansion of the medical college but the sewage continues to flow unchecked.

NEW COLLECTION TANK BUILT

From August this year,  under the supervision of PWD Kozhikode, a collection tank was built that  directed sewage water to the STP. The trial runs of the system has been going on ever since. As per reports, on an average 4-  MLD of water comes into this collection tank out of which 2 MLD is sent to the STP. A
sources at PWD  revealed to  Express, during the rain, the sewage volume surpasses 5 MLD.  The remaining water is sent untreated to the pits in Mayanad. When the pits overflow, contaminated water flows downstream affecting areas like Kovoor, Kuttikatoor and Iringadanpally. 

A PWD officer on condition of anonymity revealed that the water that comes in the newly built tank is also connected with the drainage system making pumping
system inefficient. The solid sediments are high leading to motor breakdown. "The motor keeps getting defunct often due to objects like syringes, sanitary napkins comes along. Government has set up a solid waste pickup motor near the collection tank with a cost of Rs 8 lakhs, but the machine cable often snaps and is inefficient," says the personnel.

Express took records of the volume of effluents being pumped from the station located near the block of Institute of Maternity and Child Health (IMCH). The logs revealed that the motor power which is supposed to function at a minimum 30 ampere, often goes down to 13 ampere implying less pumping to the STP.  It also reveals that the functioning of the motor is not uniform, showing varying quantity of water being pumped to the STP. 
Meanwhile, The inefficiency of the sewage disposal system proves costly for residents of Mayanad as they have to depend solely on corporation water. "The average water bill crosses thousand rupees as we cant depend on groundwater at all," said Ajit, a resident. 

Sree Nochippurath Vishnu Temple, a small shrine located near the oxidation pit in Mayanad was earlier using well water for its daily rituals. Due to the contamination, the temple management had to shift to corporation provided water for the daily temple function. “How can we use such contaminated water from the temple pond? I remember, 40 years ago we used to swim in the pond here. Now it's not even safe to wash hands and feet,” Sanal Chandran, temple committee member.  

KMCH PRINCIPAL SPEAKS

The principal of Kozhikode Medical College  Dr VR Rajendran is positive about resolving the crisis surrounding waste management.  "With the implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) project, the flagship programme of the Central Government for urban development, The sewage treatment issues as well as problems faced by the people in Mayanad will be fully resolved," he said.  All the new buildings that are being made adhere to strict norms of managing its own sewage. “The new block which was made has already set up its own 500 KLD capacity sewage disposal system,” under Pradhan
Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The corporation, as well as other government departments, are taking full effort to ensure swift action. “A part of the treated wastewater is directed to Canoli Canal and another section of sewage is directed to Mavoor side using the pipeline. Only the Mayanad side needs to be resolved, and we will soon do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, More than two hundred  families in Mayanad  awaiting the central government  scheme which has  allotted 14.2 crores to set up a 3.5 MLD Sewage Treatment plant has lost hope. “We are tired of running from pillar to post for justice for the people of Mayanad for the last few decades. We have almost given up our hopes” said Suresh Nechivayal, member of MPMNS.

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