Collector V.N. Jithendran, who is also the Executive Magistrate, has ordered the immediate removal and safe disposal of the waste accumulated on the banks of the Pampa in the downstream reaches of Arattu-kadavu at Pampa in the foothills of Sabarimala on Sunday.
Responding to The Hindu report on Sunday exposing the official negligence towards disposal of the huge quantity of waste dumped right on the river banks, the Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court, K. Babu, directed the Collector to take steps to address the pollution threat posing the river system as well as the pilgrims.
The Duty Magistrate at Pampa has directed the contractor Shukkoor from Kambom in Tamil Nadu to remove the waste from the river banks immediately, failing which punitive action would be initiated against him.
The huge quantity of waste was collected during the intensive cleaning operation carried out by the Amala Bharathoom volunteers of the Mata Amrithanandamayi Math a month ago. Though the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) authorities was supposed to take steps for the safe disposal of the waste, the filth had been left unattended there, posing pollution threat to the Pampa with its re-entry into the river in the rain.
Talking to The Hindu, the TDB officials at Pampa said the board had given the contract to Shukkoor for Rs. 18,01,001, and he was bound to clear the waste.
Though the TDB officials asked the contractor to remove the waste on Sunday morning, he was reportedly hesitant to do so until the intervention of the Duty Magistrate at Pampa later. The contractor’s men started removing the waste from 5 p.m.
The Collector, who was at Sabarimala on Sunday evening, told The Hindu that stern action would be initiated against the erring contractor. He said the administration would also explore the possibility of invoking Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code against him, besides imposing a fine.
It took strenuous efforts for the Amala Bharathom volunteers of the Math to remove the waste accumulated in the Pampa and surrounding areas in as many as 4,000 sacks during the pre-pilgrim season intensive cleaning drive on November 3 and 4.