Call to set up High Power Environment Management Cell

The polluted Pampa carries all sorts of filth left by the multitude of people visiting Sabarimala to drain it out into the Vembanad lake, posing alarming health risk to the Ayyappa devotees as well as to the millions of people residing in the river basin and in Kuttanad.

Thanks to the indifference on the part of successive governments and the official machinery in addressing this grave environmental problem on a priority basis.

The Pampa Parirakshana Samithi (PPS), a Kozhencherry-based environmental organisation that has been campaigning for the cause of river Pampa since the past two decades, expressed concern over the sidelining of the much sought-after Centrally-sponsored Pampa Action Plan by the State, despite it being made part of the National River Conservation Programme.

Talking to The Hindu, PPS general secretary N.K. Sukumaran Nair stressed the need to set up a High Power Environment Management Cell to implement various eco-friendly pilgrim amenity schemes at Sabarimala without any further delay.

Mr. Nair said any developmental work envisaged and executed at Sabarimala should be environment-friendly. At the same time, delay in the implementation of various developmental schemes should never be permitted in the larger interests of the pilgrims, he said.

The government had made a budget allocation of Rs.25 crore for Sabarimala development. But, neither the State government nor the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) could launch a single environment conservation project at Sabarimala as envisaged in the budget, Mr. Nair alleged.

Permanent system

Though the TDB and the government had organised intensive waste clearance drive at Sabarimala from time to time, a major portion of the waste removed were dumped in the forest itself, leaving enough scope for it to flow into the river during the monsoon, the PPS leader said.

The pre-pilgrim season cleaning drive launched by the Amalabharathom volunteers of the Mata Amritanandamayi Madhom was a great solace. But, a permanent and systematic solid and liquid waste management was badly needed at Sabarimala, he said.

Mr. Nair said it was an irony that a large pilgrimage centre such as Sabarimala was yet to have a safe drinking water treatment system, apart from the prevailing mere chlorination of the polluted Pampa river water.

According to the PSS leader, what was needed was action and not promises and loud proclamations with regard to a scientific waste management system and environment-friendly pilgrim amenity schemes.