KOCHI: It was recently reported that the Ganga witnessed a significant reduction in water pollution during the lockdown. Unfortunately, the Periyar back home has not been as lucky. A comparative study of the river’s water quality by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) before and during the lockdown revealed no major change in pollution levels. Sources in the board said settlement of organic matter was high on upstream Pathalam stretch while the downstream stretch had high concentration of chloride ions and water conductivity due to saline water intrusion.
“Since lockdown did not impact sewage discharge into the river, there was no significant reduction in pollution levels in the Periyar. KSPCB officials had inspected the industries along the river stretch to check for any discharge from the factories but found nothing,” said a source. “Civic bodies have been asked to regulate the discharge of sewage from households into the river. However, no action has been taken,” said a source.
District Collector S Suhas and KSPCB officials had recently visited industries at Eloor to check whether any discharge from factories was polluting the river. Suhas has directed the industries to put in place a proper waste management system. Studies conducted in April had also revealed that dissolved oxygen level at downstream Pathalam bund stretch was as low as 0.19 mg/litre against the average 6-8 mg/litre. The colony forming unit (CFU) of Coliform bacteria in downstream Pathalam was 1600/100 ml.
“We require further studies to identify and rectify the reasons behind the pollution of the river. The assistance of other agencies is required for this,” said a source.Meanwhile, the State-Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) of National Green Tribunal (NGT) is also conducting a study on the pollution in the Periyar. SLMC head Justice A V Ramakrishna Pillai said the data for the study - being undertaken on the NGT’s directive following a petition filed by former High Court Judge R Baskaran regarding the dumping of slaughter waste in the Periyar - has been collected.
“We have collected data from three districts through which the river flows. Details regarding markets, residences, apartments, industries and sewage were collected with the help of over 100 civic bodies. We also received data from monitoring stations of KSPCB. The report will be filed in the next few weeks,” he said.He said sewage alone could not be behind the pollution. “There are several other factors and we are identifying them. The study report will give an in-depth view about the pollution and pollutants of the Periyar,” he said.
Sources in the board said settlement of organic matter was high on upstream Pathalam stretch while the downstream stretch had a high concentration of chloride ions and water conductivity due to saline water intrusion.