Close on the heels of the directions of the State Pollution Control Board chairman to commence water treatment in Njunangar stream leading to river Pampa on the foothills of Sabarimala with ``Ferrous Chloride-Titanium-Lime addition on an emergency basis,’’ District Collector, T.T.Antony, has banned any chemical treatment in the river, invoking the relevant provisions in Section 144 of CrPC.

The ban order issued by the Collector to the Travancore Devaswom Board was in the larger interests of checking the reported pollution of the major water source of river Pampa with heavy metals due to use of contaminated ferrous chloride in the process of chemical treatment of Njuangar.

The TDB and PCB have made elaborate arrangements for the chemical treatment of Njunangar stream in the upstream reaches of Cheriyanavattom, constructing a check dam and installing sprayers on it.

The TDB has been carrying out the river treatment since the past two years with Ferrous Chloride in the backdrop of the high level of coliform count in the river water due to flow of al sorts of filth into Pampa from the Sannidhanam areas through Njunagar stream. It is a fact that the chemical process could considerably reduce the coliform count in the river, leaving the fresh water source exposed to a far more hazardous pollution due to heavy metal contamination, say experts.

Many experts attached to PCB, Kerala Water Authority and various eco groups like Pampa Parirakshana Samiti are against this chemical treatment, which they call ``unscientific’.

Mr. N.K.Sukumaran Nair, PPS General Secretary said the samiti would move court if the PCB and TDB decide to go ahead with the project with out conducting a convincing scientific assessment on the same.

Mr. Nair alleged it was unfortunate that a responsible body like PCB which is supposed to protect the water sources in the State from pollution itself was reportedly ``abetting’’ the pollution of Pampa with heavy metals in the name of direct river treatment.

High level meeting today

Meanwhile, the Additional Chief Secretary, K.Jayakumar who is also the TDB Chief Commissioner, told The Hindu that he will be convening a high level meeting of officials attached to PCB, Kerala Water Authority, Irrigation wing of Water Resources Department and TDB engineers to discuss the issue on Monday.

Mr. Jayakumar said there is no question of continuing chemical treatment, if it is found hazardous to public health. He said the meeting would explore the possibility of launching eco-friendly treatment of the river water to reduce the coliform count in it during the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.