Alarming levels of plastic in Kochi backwaters: Study

Report says 4,276 tonnes of plastic garbage present in 76.5 sq km area of Alappuzha-Thanneermukkom sector of the Vembanad lake

Published: 15th October 2019 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2019 06:33 AM   |  A+A-

Loads of plastic waste littered in the backwaters near Marine Drive | Albin Mathew

By Express News Service

KOCHI: A research study conducted by the scientists of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) in the Vembanad lake and coastal belts of Kochi reveals the presence of heavy loads of macroplastic litters in the bottom sediments.  

In the 76.5 sq km area of Alappuzha-Thanneermukkom sector of Vembanad, the study reports the presence of 4,276 tonnes of plastic garbage in the bottom sediments which work out to 55.9 tonnes per sq km area, according to Dr A Ramachandran, vice-chancellor of Kufos.

Another alarming finding of the study is the sharp depth shrinkage of the lake from 8 to 9 metres depth in 1930’s to the present 1.6 to 4.5 metres, said Ramachandran.

The decreasing trend in the lake’s depth profile is largely from siltation and unless urgent interventions are made to reverse the trend, the southern part of the lake is likely to disappear in one or two decades, he said. The study was conducted as part of the university’s year-long campaign on plastic-free Kochi waters under the Swachhata hi Seva programme of the Government of India, he said. The activities, under the ‘Swachhata hi Seva’ will culminate in an awareness meet at Marine Drive, here, on Wednesday noon.

Results of Kufos research findings on plastic pollution and an overall deterioration in the conditions of Vembanad lake will be presented to the general public in this meeting. Ramachandran said Kufos has already initiated detailed investigations through the Centre for Aquatic Resource Management and Conservation, working under the university, on the long-term changes of Vembanad lake which is a Ramsar site. (A Ramsar site is a wetland ecosystem designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by Unesco, which came into force in 1975).

The Vice-Chancellor said the university has plans to undertake long-term clean-up campaigns of Kochi waters through public participation. Hoardings depicting the danger associated with casual disposal of plastic items will be kept at each 500 m distance of the Marine Drive walk-way, urging the public to dispose of plastic items only in the bins kept at several points along the pathway by the university in collaboration with any corporate sector willing to participate in this.

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