Rampant dumping and illegal discharge of sewage into the Kadambrayar is poisoning the ecosystem of one of the few freshwater sources remaining in the district.
Kadambrayar starts from Kizakkambalam wetlands and receives about 40 minor streams to form a creek that runs to nearly 7.52 kilometres before joining the Chitrapuzha at Brahmapuram. It passes through Kizhakkambalam, Kunnathunadu, Maradu, Thiruvaniyoor, Chottanikkara, Tripunithura and Thrikkakkara.
Kadambrayar is the source of water for nearby panchayats as well as a host of industries, including the Cochin Special Economic Zone at Kakkanad, apartment complexes and a leading water theme park near the water body.
Cruising down the creek revealed shocking images of illegal discharge and dumping, seriously affecting the marine and aquatic life in the creek. Water had turned septic at many spots especially near Manakkakadavu and Brahmapuram. Local residents informed that slaughter waste is regularly dumped from the Pallikara bridge in the cover of night. Foul smell was emanating from the stretch of the creek near this region. The wastewater run-off from vehicle wash units was found following into the creek.
Several farmers and families of fishers had depended on Kadambrayar for their livelihood a few years ago, said S. Sitaraman, a noted environmentalist engaged in conservation initiatives of the rivers across the district. “Thamarachal, Cherattukara, Padathykkara and Thengodu streams bring water into the Kadamprayar from the Periyar Valley scheme.”
“But the water from these streams is mostly turbid due to agricultural run-off. Moreover, real estate developers had also directed the wastewater outlets to the creek, causing heavy pollution. The authorities are delaying the cleaning up process of the creek, fearing that these illegal outlets might be exposed,” he said.
The Brahmapuram stretch of the creek was among the 150 most polluted river spots across the country identified by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2011. Senior scientists at the Kerala State Pollution Control Board pointed out that low dissolved oxygen levels in the Kadambrayar could be the result of dumping solid waste from residential complexes located along the creek.
Nafin K.S., a young researcher who had probed the pollution status of Kadambrayar, said the dissolved oxygen in many spots along the creek are dangerously below the minimum requirement of 4 mg/l prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board.