A study conducted by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation, in association with the Lake Protection Forum, an organisation of fishermen, over the first three months of this year on the Vembanad lake has shown that the level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) has increased and the level of dissolved oxygen has decreased over these three months.

The total TDS which was just 200 to 1200 milligram per litre (mgl) in January rose to 1000 to 4700 in February and varied from 1000 to 4600 in March. The temperature of the lake has shown an increase over the three months. The temperature which was just 24 to 25 degree Celsius in January, increased to 28 to 29 in February and to 31 to 33 in March.

The forum workers had tested the water samples taken from eight points in the lake in the laboratory of the Socio Economic Unit Foundation in Alappuzha.

The water of the lake has turned alkaline with the ph value in March showing 8. K.M. Poovu, secretary of the forum at Muhamma says that if the shutters of the Thaneermukkom barrage were not opened immediately, the repeat of the 1983 incident when a large number of fish died in the lake will occur. The opening of the shutters will let saline water enter the Kuttanad area including its paddy fields.

The barrage was to be opened before March 15, as per the report of a committee prepared a decade ago. But the monitoring committee consisting farmers, fishermen and the district collectors of Kottayam and Alappuzha has not been convened so far. The committee decides when to open and close the shutters of the barrage, he said.