PUDUCHERRY: Demanding prompt action against severe pollution gripping Velrampet- Olandai, and Murungappakkam lakes, the cadre of DMK staged a hunger strike at Marapalam in Puducherry on Tuesday.
The strike was led by Leader of Opposition R Siva along with Mudaliarpet MLA L Sambath and Bahour MLA R Senthilkumarand they alleged that the Muduliarpet and Ariyankuppam villages are on the brink of a health scare due to the pollution.
According to residents and environmental activists, the medical effluents discharged from Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute (IGMC&RI) in Kathirgamam coupled with sewage mixed water from the Kanagan Lake and households, are turning the two lakes into a veritable cesspool.
“These lakes, once vital sources of drinking water for over 10,000 households and agricultural lands, are now teetering on the brink of ecological collapse,’ says Natarajan of Murungapakkam Makkal Pudunala Peravai, an NGO.
The recent breakdown of an underground channel intended to divert rainwater from the Reddiarpalayam areas to the Ariyankuppam river has exacerbated the situation. As sewerage is let out into stormwater channels, the channel breach resulted in polluting the lakes and rivers, residents said.
Adding to the woes are the improper waste disposal practices of a nearby cattle slaughterhouse as well as wastes of fish, and chicken in the lakes as well the Ariyankuppam river, says R Siva during the protest. Despite designated disposal sites by Ariyankuppam Commune Panchayat, meat waste finds its way into the tanks and rivers.
“We have demanded the construction of sewage treatment plants and strict regulations against discharge of sewage into tanks and rivers. The government must also initiate immediate measures to restore the water bodies to their natural state,” he said.
“The Pollution Control Board has also submitted a report saying the waters of the lake have become toxic and are not fit for drinking. In this situation, the government is taking steps to install three boreholes in the lake to overcome drinking water shortage,” says DMK MLA L Sambath. The protesters also opposed the fish cultivation in the lakes. After Chief Minister N Rangasamy assured to rectify the situation, DMK withdrew the hunger strike in the afternoon.
Following the agitation, the PWD stated that the Director, IGMC&RI today communicated that necessary action for the installation Effluent Treatment Plant( ETP ) will be taken up by mid-February 2024 and the project would be completed within 6 to 9 months. After its completion, the problem of medical waste going to STP will not arise and the quality of treated sewage discharged into the Irrigation Canal will be as per the standards.
Puducherry Municipality in a letter to MLA Sampath, informed that the licence for fishing in lakes will not be extended after the expiry of the agreement on July 1, 2025.