KOCHI: The name Periyar always evokes the image of a pristine river, but the reality is totally different. The river, which is the chief water source for Kochi, has a high content of coliform bacteria.
According to the recently released Water and Air Quality Directory by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board, the level of faecal coliform(FC) and total coliforms (TC) recorded from various locations in Periyar in 2016 is very much high than that recorded in 2015.As per the directory, water which has TC level less than 50 in 100ml is safe for consumption without conventional treatment. For outdoor bathing, the TC level should be 500 or less in 100 ml of water. For water to be potable, after conventional treatment, TC should be 5,000 or less.
In 2016, the maximum TC recorded at Eloor was 1,420, 1,200 at Kalady, 1,600 at Muppathdam, 1,560 at Pathalam, 1,460 at Kalamassery, 1,140 at Purappillikadavu, 1,100 at KWA Aluva and 1,480 at SDP Aluva.
Periyar stretch at Kalady recorded an average TC level of 203 and FC level of 102 in 2015. This has increased to 550 TC and 410 FC in 2016. At Eloor stretch in 2015, the TC and FC were 179 and 97 respectively. This has increased to 189 and 98 respectively in 2016.
At Muppathadam, TC and FC level were 186 and 97 in 2015 which rose to 198 and 110 in 2016. t Kalamassery, in 2015 the TC and FC levels were 177 and 91 which increased to 194 and 120. At Vettukadavu near Pathalam, the TC and FC level were 177 and 91 in 2015. It has increased to 191 and 74.33 in 2016. Similarly, at Purapilllikadavu, the TC and FC in 2016 were 255 and 128 compared to 165 and 85 in 2015.
Moovattupuzha river too is not far behind and is increasingly becoming polluted with maximum TC level of 3,400 recorded at Vettikkattumukku.Thrideep Kumar, who actively works for Periyar conservation and is an environmental engineer with the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), said disposing of solid waste in the rivers is the main reason behind the increase in coliform levels.
“Rivers in Kerala, particularly Periyar, are becoming polluted and the presence of coliform bacteria is increasing alarmingly because solid waste is being deposited in them in large quantities. The TC level rises after it rains since sewage from the residences on the banks of the rivers flows into them. Strong steps have to be taken to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” he said.
Imbalance in pH levels
The pHlevel should be a minimum of 6.5 and maximum of 8.5. At Pathalam, the maximum pH level was recorded as 8.9. The water there had a minimum pH of 6. At Kalamassery, KSPCB recorded a maximum pH level of 7.3 and a minimum of 5.8. At Muvattupuzha river, the pH level 7.2 and 6.5. Purushan Eloor, an environmental activist said in order to bring the pollution level down, the authorities should ensure that no solid waste enters Periyar river.
“As far as the increase in coliform level is concerned, the blame solely rests on the markets functioning in Aluva, the hospitals located on the banks of Periyar, the dumping yard in Kalamassery and the highrises. Also, wastes from the industries are the reason why there has been an increase in the pH level and an imbalance in the Dissolved Oxygen and Biochemical Oxygen content. A collective measure is required to save Periyar,” he said.