The State government has sought clarification from the State Pollution Control Board on the reported disposal of contaminated Ferrous Chloride, a by-product of an Aluva-based private company in the Njunangar stream, a tributary of the river Pampa, on the foothills of Sabarimala as part of direct river treatment since the past two years.
In a letter to the PCB Member Secretary, National Rural Health Mission State Director Dr. Dinesh Arora who is also the Chief Health Co-ordinator for Sabarimala, said the “disposal of chemical waste in the pretext of water treatment is quite alarming and can be a serious health hazard.”
Dr. Arora also sought a detailed report on the matter from the PCB within a week.
Talking to The Hindu, Dr. Arora said the presence of heavy metals in river Pampa, regarded as the lifeline of Central Kerala could lead to alarming health problems in the river basin and the government would initiate appropriate steps to check any more disposal of contaminated chemical waste in the river course.
Meanwhile, the Water Resources Minister, N.K. Premachandran, has directed the Chief Engineer (Irrigation and Administration) to inquire into the matter and file a detailed report to the government soon.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Premachandran said the PCB is supposed to initiate pollution control measures and every sincere initiative for pollution abatement of Pampa and other rivers should be appreciated.
But, the PCB should take extra care to conduct proper scientifically monitored impact studies before permitting such chemical treatment schemes especially in major water sources like Pampa, the Minister said.
Mr. Premachandran said he has also directed the Chief Engineer to see whether the direct river treatment system in Njunangar was implemented with due consent from the Irrigation wing of Water Resources Department.
Scientific study by Central agency sought
Meanwhile, various eco groups have called upon the government to conduct a scientific study on the impact of using contaminated Ferrous Chloride in the direct water treatment of Njunangar.
Mr. Eloor Purushan, environmentalist, said it was an irony that the contaminated Ferrous Chloride which was found hazardous by the Monitoring Committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India has now become ‘eco-friendly’ for treating rivers.
Mr. Purushan and Mr. V.N. Gopinatha Pillai, Manimalayar Samrakshana Samiti, general secretary, alleged that certain high level quarters attached to the PCB as well as the Travancore Devaswom Board were also involved in the ‘conspiracy’ to facilitate disposal of the factory waste into Pampa in the name of water treatment.
They said the unscientific river treatment leading to the presence of heavy metals in a major water source that houses a good number of drinking water supply schemes amounted to criminal offence and the government should conduct a detailed probe and initiate stern action against those involved in it.
The PCB is reportedly planning to implement the direct water treatment scheme using the very same “chemical waste” in all the rivers across the State and it is high time the government intervened in the matter, they added