KOCHI: It is a well-known fact that Vembanad Lake is highly polluted. The lake not only has to bear the brunt of being saddled with weeds like hyacinth and algae, but also manmade things like fishing nets and microplastics.
These pollutants affect not only those residing on the banks of the lake but also vessels conducting passenger and commercial services.
According to an officer with the SWTD, Vega 120, the fastest ferry service in the state, has to battle pollutants nearly every day since its launch. "The problem is very serious. Weeds floating like small islands on the lake get sucked in and tangle in the propellers. They also enter the pipe that keeps the engine cool," he said. Once the weeds get sucked into the pipes, they have to be manually removed. This cuts into the travel time and the journey which should only take 90 minutes misses the timetable," he added. Plastic ropes and fishing nets are other materials the boats operating on the backwaters tackle every day.
"The fishermen who use Chinese fishing nets ditch the torn and damaged nets in the lake. The nets drift to different areas of the lake with the current, posing danger to not only the boats but also to aquatic animals and birds," he said.
According to the officer, when a plastic rope tangled in the propeller, the heat melts it. "The material sticks onto the propeller and brings the boat to a jolting halt. The crew has to get off and dive to scrape the waste to restart the boat," he said.
"It is the Irrigation Department that has to clean the lake. But dredging has not taken place for quite some time now. Also, it doesn't help when people continue to dump waste in the lake even after being told not to," he added. He said accidents can happen due to the waste floating in the lake.