KOCHI:Residents of Eloor woke up on Friday morning once again to witness the River Periyar turning ‘red’, with contaminated discharge from the factories on the banks. The discolouration of the river is no longer new for the local people, as they have been witnessing this for the quite long. The State Pollution Control Board has installed cameras in the area and an online monitoring mechanism, but it is yet to find the ‘real reason’ behind the phenomenon.
Environmentalists point out that the polluted discharge was seen coming out from the middle of the river fifty metres upstream of Pathalam Regulator. They suspect that there must be some illegal discharge points under the river there.
The discolouration of the river was first noticed near Eloor Thekkumbhagam early morning on Friday, said Iqbal Eloor, a local environmental activist. After a gap, a few companies in the Eloor-Edayar belt resumed discharging effluents in large quantities into the river since the past few days, he said. “ This is not the first instance this week. However, the intensity of pollution was high and the duration much longer,” he added.
Environmentalists and local people complain that the discharge of effluents often takes place on holidays and during night. Based on complaints, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board officials (KSPCB) visited the area and collected water samples.
“ The complaints have come to our notice and we have initiated investigation,” said K Sajeevan, Chairman of KSPCB. Whenever we inspect the companies functioning here, everything seems normal. Now, we are seriously thinking about a probe to find out the exact source of the discharge, he informed.
On October 31, just a day after an expert team from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) completed collecting samples from the river and the company premises as per an National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, the river had shown signs of high discharge of chemical effluents, according to locals. The river had turned red a few days before the visit of the NEERI team, as well.
An eleven-member team led by Tapas Nandy, chief scientist in the Waste Water Technology Division of the NEERI had visited and collected samples from the river and from the factory premises in the last week of October.
The sampling followed an order issued by the Chennai Bench of the NGT on September 7, directing the Nagpur-based NEERI to collect samples from the effluent outlets of HIL, Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd, Merchem Limited and Cochin Minerals and Routiles Ltd, which are situated in the Eloor- Edayar industrial belt.