KOCHI: Even as the public and environmentalists are crying fowl over the pollution in Periyar river, the drinking water source of millions in the city, many including Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and trade unions are not willing to accept the truth.
Interestingly, the champions of environment protection and industrial development have been training their guns on each other on the Periyar issue. The former group holds the industries on the shores of the river responsible for causing pollution while the latter terms these campaigns as ploys to destroy industries.
The environmental activists have claimed that the effluents from the industries are being discharged into the river causing the change of course of the river, change in colour of the water and death of fishes. On the other hand, the trade unions refuse to believe that the river is polluted and even if it is, they do not think the industries are responsible for it.
A public meeting was organised last week by Standing Council of Trade Unions, which comprised all major trade unions including CITU, INTUC, AITUC and BMS, against the ‘rumours’ and campaigns which claimed that the industries pollute the river. Speaking to ‘Express,’ CPM secretary P Rajeeve said that the claims made by certain ‘environmentalist’ and activists cant be taken on face value as they are not based on scientific study.
“We do not have any concrete studies proving that industries pollute the river.
They say the drinking water is contaminated due to effluents from Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL). How can a company in the downstream pollute the water that is sourced upstream,” he asked. Rajeeve added that he believes extremist elements are behind the campaigns.
“ Earlier, they said Sri Sakthi Paper Mills were causing pollution, now they say its CMRL. These allegations are unsubstantiated,” he said.
G D Martin, a scientist and activist who has been in the forefront of protests against the pollution, responds to Rajeeve with Kerala State Pollution Control Board’s (KSPCB) report on pollution in Periyar which came out on October 7.
The report prepared by KSPCB environmental engineer Thrideep Kumar M P has said that CMRL has discharged ‘unauthorised’ effluents into the river that has brought about its discolouration. Martin says that Rajeeve’s question on effluents discharged downstream polluting water upstream is misplaced as discharging waste into the river in itself is unlawful.
A team of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) members had carried out the first phase of inspections in the river between October 18 to 22 on the direction of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The second phase began on Monday will be wound up by Thursday.