Clean-up project targets downstream pollution-control in the first phase

The first phase of the project taken up by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) to clean up the Karamana river will focus on arresting the pollution of the downstream portion at Thiruvallam and eco restoration of the Killiyar, a tributary.

The project is to be implemented by the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority. The State Planning Board has approved an assistance of Rs.5 crore for the project to be taken up this financial year.

Expert panel’s findings

A study carried out by a technical expert committee headed by Executive Vice President, KSCSTE, V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai found that dumping of waste into the river had affected the water quality. Erosion, sand-mining, encroachment, and growth of weeds along the river’s course were found to be obstructing the water flow.

The committee felt that the heavy pollution of the Thiruvallam canal, an artificial canal branching off the downstream stretch of the river, had to be addressed in the first phase, considering the environmental and health hazards faced by local people and the large number of pilgrims visiting the Parasurama temple.

It has proposed the construction of a permanent check-dam or vented cross bar and a pump house at the origin of the canal to maintain adequate water flow at the ghat near the temple.

The committee has recommended the construction of a second check-dam further downstream, between the Edayar island and the mainland to divert the heavily polluted water from the Parvathy Puthanar canal into the estuary instead of letting it mix with the river upstream. It has stressed the need to expedite the work on a sewage treatment plant at Muttathara to reduce pollution of the Parvathy Puthanar.

The pilot project for the eco restoration of the Killiyar will be taken up on a one-km stretch between Myladikadavu and Iranimuttam. According to the project report, leachate from garbage dumps at Jagathy, Valiasala, and Iranimuttam are polluting the river. Encroachment of the river; discharge of untreated sewage and waste water from houses, schools, and community halls; silt and garbage carried by storm-water drains; disposal of poultry and slaughterhouse waste; and waste water from dhobi ghats are the other major sources of pollution.

The pilot project seeks to provide underground filter mediums around the dumps to prevent leachate from contaminating the river water. Eco toilets and public comfort stations will be provided at select locations. People’s committees will be formed to remove silt and vegetative growth obstructing water flow.

The pollution abatement measures include the construction of sedimentation tanks in schools and community halls to separate solid waste, and periodic cleaning of drains and roads on the river banks.

The committee has proposed that Home Guards be posted along the banks to deter polluters. It has also recommended beautification and greening of the banks, with local associations or business establishments entrusted with their maintenance.

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