KOCHI: Kadambrayar acts as the main source of water for Infopark, Smart City, Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and many industrial units, but it is fast getting polluted due to the dumping of waste and lack of proper cleaning drives. Adding to it, excessive growth of water hyacinths and other weeds has severely affected the water flow. Residents and environmentalists feel the river will die a gradual death if action is not taken on a war footing.
Environmental activist Purushan Eloor alleged the state government is not taking enough measures.
“Piles of waste are being dumped into the river. It’ll eventually lead to the death of the river, which is the major water source for the area. Without water, the companies will have to close down. Residents too will be forced to leave, turning Kakkanad into a ghost town,” he said.
The Brahmapuram waste treatment plant is also a threat to the water body as it is not fully functional yet and waste is being dumped straight into the river. A massive cleaning drive, under the instruction of then district collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla, was held from May-November 2017 using the CSR funds of the companies working in the vicinity.
Thrikkakara Municipality now conducts cleaning drive, but it is not able to stop hyacinths and weeds from growing which Purushan says is the indication that the flow of water has slowed down.“The sediments and other wastes are getting settled at the bottom of the river. As a result, roots of plants and weeds get stuck and grow abundantly,” he said.
Increase in salinity
Salinity is another issue that troubles Kadambrayar. Kinfra had stopped pumping water for Infopark from Kadambrayar recently due to salinity issues, something that has affected the techies badly.Environmentalists say salinity in the river happens due to sea erosion.“For years, Kerala has been experiencing heavy sea erosion. The monsoon period is now reduced to 1-2 months, so monsoon flushing isn’t happening. So underwater streams are easily reaching other water sources. Also, freshwater sources are on the decline. Usually, the rivers are affected by salinity from March to May, but now salinity rises by November-December. This is what Kadambrayar is experiencing right now,” said Purushan.
Severe dumping of waste
Edachira ward councillor Ramsy Jaleel said despite warnings and notices, several companies at Infopark and residents of nearby highrises still dumped wastes in the Kadambrayar. “We conducted a cleaning drive in the river before the previous monsoon. However, the continuous dumping has led to the accumulation of huge quantities of waste at the bottom of the river. We have urged the government to take strict action against those polluting the river. We have also requested the government to extend boat service from Chittethukara to Infopark so that the stretch is routinely cleaned,” she said.
Pollution test planned
The Pollution Control Board (PCB), Ernakulam, is planning to conduct a pollution test of the river following residents complaints. “We received a complaint from the Legislative Committee on Petitions about the water body being polluted by industries in the vicinity. A resident informed the committee about liquid waste being dumped into the river. Waste from Brahmapuram plant is a major pollutant. Pollution test will be conducted on the river by next week,” said PCB chief environmental engineer M A Baiju.
‘Sustainable solution needed’
Infopark CEO Sasi Meethal said a sustainable solution was needed to remove the salinity of Kadambrayar river. “We have contacted the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), Kozhikode, to study the issue and find a long-term solution for this,” he said.
Stop dumping of waste from nearby companies, industries and highrises into the river
Protect the wetlands at Kizhakkambalam, the source of water for the Kadambrayar. Many wetlands have been reclaimed.
Appoint a monitoring committee to analyse the river’s flow before and after monsoon. Prepare a five-year plan to protect the river based on the data.
Conduct awareness programmes regularly in the area on the river’s importance.