And quiet flows the polluted Periyar river as neglect stagnates action plan

Except for the PCB, none of the departments involved has submitted proposals or inputs

Published: 22nd April 2022 06:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2022 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

Industrial effluents mixed in Periyar river.

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Periyar River Action Plan remains in limbo even as the deadline for its submission before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) draws near, courtesy the lack of coordination among stakeholders. And quiet flows the Periyar — dirtied and discoloured. Except for the Pollution Control Board (PCB), none of the other departments involved in the decontamination mission has submitted their inputs for the plan, which was initiated a year ago. The PCB’s proposal, too, was “sent back by the NGT”. 

“It cited lack of clarity, especially on the funding aspect,” said a PCB official. This had to be decided by all the stakeholders, but getting the representatives of the industries, local self-government (LSG) and irrigation departments together was a tough job, the official added. 

Another PCB official noted: “We are not the sole funding agency. The funds have to be realised by the other departments too. But for this issue to be discussed, representatives from all these departments have to get together.”  

For the action plan to be complete, a PCB official explained, the LSG department should provide data on the sites for the sewage treatment plants and drainage outlets. “That has not happened yet,” the official said. Meanwhile, as the action plan lags, the river’s woes remain unsolved. A recent PCB inspection, ordered following large-scale discolouration of the Periyar, zeroed in on sewage discharge as the main source of river pollution. Industrial units were discharging effluents directly or through storm-water drains, it revealed. 

Several factors were hindering the proper implementation of pollution-control guidelines, officials noted. “Identification of unauthorised discharges is cumbersome due to wild growth of trees and bushes along the banks of the river,” said a PCB official. “Also, surveillance cameras are damaged and do not help in identifying major pollution sources.” At least this issue was being addressed. Nine night-vision cameras to monitor the river will be installed within a month, the official added. 


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