5 hotels in medical college area pipe sewage to this once perennial water source

If the government records are any indication, the low land behind the cluster of commercial buildings in front of the Government Medical College Hospital here hides a pond that once used to be a perennial source of freshwater, spread over nearly half-an-acre.

The ground reality is, sadly, different. The once-famed public pond, ‘Cheruvakarakonam Kulam,’ is now little more than a depression in the land.

It is chock-full of raw sewage and urban refuse. Weeds and wild growth have almost levelled the pond. Its existence was almost forgotten till a civic minded citizen alerted the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau of its plight.

Vigilance probe

On the basis of his petition, the agency investigated the causes behind the pollution and environmental degradation of the pond.

Investigators said they found that at least five hotels in the locality illegally piped raw sewage and waste water directly to the pond. The managements also used it as a ‘convenient garbage dump hidden from public eye’ to save on their overhead expenses.

Filthy water to drink?

Investigators said they ‘were shocked’ to find that at least one hotel management had sunk a well near the sewage-laden pond and pumped the water back to their establishment for use.

The VACB requested the office of the Commissioner of Food and Safety to examine the water samples drawn from the well.

The officials there chemically examined them and reported that the water was ‘unfit for human consumption.’

Investigators said hundreds of customers, including doctors, patients, and helpers, who frequented the establishment, had over the past few years unsuspectingly consumed the harmful cocktail of bacteria, coliform, and heavy metals.

Encroachments

The VACB also found that at least six local residents had encroached upon the pond and appropriated 16 cents for private use.

The agency has recommended that they be prosecuted under section 7 (a) of the Kerala Land Conservancy (Amendment Act).

They have also recommended action against the errant hotels under the Food Safety and Standard Act.

The VACB has requested the Municipal authorities to dismantle the sewage lines laid illegally by the hotels and fill the well. It has also suggested that the pond be cleaned and walled to insulate it against future encroachments and wanton degradation.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, N. Nandanan Pillai, investigated the case.