The chairman of the State Pollution Control Board is understood to have directed the Travancore Devaswom Board to “commence treatment in Njunangar, tributary of river Pampa, with Ferrous Chloride-Titanium”.

In a letter, dated 5-12-2009 (PCB/Proj/Smala/2009), the PCB chairman has further directed the TDB Chief Engineer to submit an action-taken report on the same on an emergency basis, sidelining the criticism from various experts on the ill-effects of the direct river treatment using contaminated chemical waste generated at a private company in Aluva.

STP at Pampa

Highly reliable sources attached to PCB as well as TDB told The Hindu that the Ferric Chloride used at the sewage treatment plant at Pampa in the previous years was also brought in tanker lorries from an

Aluva-based company free of cost and a total of 1,24,750 lit of Ferric Chloride was used in the STP at the rate of Rs. 6 per litre during the previous Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.

According to official sources, certain high-level quarters in the PCB have been insisting on chemical treatment at the proposed sewage treatment plant at Sannidhanam too, leaving enough room for the manifold increase in heavy metal concentration in the major water source of Pampa.

Probe underway

Water Resources Minister, N.K. Premachandran, had ordered a departmental inquiry into the chemical treatment of Njunangar stream leading to Pampa without even taking the irrigation wing of the department into confidence.

The PCB Member Secretary is yet to respond to the clarification sought by the Chief Health Co-ordiantor, Dinesh Arora, on the reported heavy metal contamination of river Pampa that houses as many as 31 drinking water supply schemes in the downstream reaches upto the backwaters of Kuttanad.

CPI seeks probe

Meanwhile, CPI State secretariat members, M. Sukumara Pillai who is also the Kerafed chairman and P. Prasad, have called upon the government to take immediate steps to conduct a detailed inquiry into the chemical treatment of the water source posing serious health risk to the population in the Pampa river basin.

They said the PCB as well as the departments of Health and Water Resources should come out with a white paper on the reported use of contaminated chemical for river treatment and the two-year scientific data on its impact in the river system.

“It is a shame on the literate Kerala that the authorities who are bound to protect our water bodies are keeping mum against this heavy metal contamination of the river Pampa,” alleged Mr. Prasad who is also a close associate of Medha Patkar.