Kerala High Court urges health survey, insurance for Periyar pollution affected areas

Sate government told to file a statement regarding industrial units functioning upstream in three weeks.
Around six or seven industrial units functioning in the area were discharging toxic effluents leading to discolouration of the river water.
Around six or seven industrial units functioning in the area were discharging toxic effluents leading to discolouration of the river water.Photo | Express

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to inform the court whether it is willing to conduct a health survey in the areas near the Periyar river where industrial units are functioning and come up with an insurance scheme for the residents of the area, and if not, why. The court orally observed: “One fact is indisputable that there is pollution in the area.”

The bench comprising Chief Justice A J Desai and Justice V G Arun directed the government to make available the list of industrial units functioning in the area, especially upstream, based on the no-objection certificate of the State Pollution Control Board. The court asked the government to file the statement in this regard in three weeks.

The court orally observed that in 2008, the government had constituted a committee to conduct a health survey of the people living in the areas and found that there was rampant pollution in the areas. Due to the pollution, the lives of people in the area were affected. Then the government came out with an insurance scheme.

However, it was wound up within no time. “We are now in 2024 and the pollution has increased manifold. One report says that this is the 19th polluting spot all over. Therefore, should not the government conduct a survey at this point of time and find out what is the health condition of the people in that area and come out with some scheme to address the issue,” said the bench. The court said it was thinking of passing orders for taking remedial measures to curb the pollution.

The government pleader submitted that the committee constituted by the High Court had conducted an inspection and they collected samples which were sent for scientific analysis. And the inspection is continuing, and to complete the process two more months is needed.

The court pointed out that when the committee members inspected the area, they had some breathing problems because of air pollution. “Even they could feel it, it is rampant in the area,” said the court.

Counsel for Green Action Force, advocate A X Varghese, submitted that the expert committee had not visited the upstream areas of the Periyar as part of the inspection.

Around six or seven industrial units functioning there were discharging toxic effluents leading to discolouration of the river water.

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