The natural sandbeds of river Pampa are fast becoming memories of a golden past. Thanks to the unabated anti-river activities like illegal sand mining, unscientific constructions on the riverbed, fast-spreading vegetation growth on the degraded rivebed.
The once-prolific sandbed of Pampa which has been the venue of the century-old annual Christian religious convention at Maramon near Kozhencherry has been degenerated into a clayey land on which grass and other vegetation grow abundantly.
The granite protection wall constructed by the Water Resources Department to protect the remaining sand on the riverbed too had contributed to its degradation reportedly due to its unscientific design. The riverbed which was once a prolific bed of fine sand has now become a muddy bed, leaving it a sad testimony to man’s callous attitude towards river protection and nature conservation.
The case of the sandbed at Cherukolpuzha where another century-old annual Hindu religious meet take place too is not much different. But, still there is some sand left on the Pampa riverbed at Cherukolpuzha as the local people and the Hindumatha Maha Mandlam have been keeping strict vigil against illegal sand extraction from the riverbed.
However, the sandbed at Varavur situated in the upstream of Cherukolpuzha is perhaps the only place where fine sand is left in the riverbed of Pampa. The Department of Post has recently brought out a postal cover on river Pampa, displaying a scenic photograph of the sandbed of Varavur recently.
Mr N.K.Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of Pampa Parirakshana Samiti, a Kozhencherry-based eco group that has been campaigning for the cause of river Pampa since the past two decades, the unabated illegal sand mining on the riverbed has created deep dykes in the river, literally leaving them as death traps.
Mr Nair said the Pampa riverbed has gone down three to five metres due to the indiscriminate sand removal over the past two decades. Sand deposits have been almost exhausted along many stretches of the riverbed and weeds and thickets of grass flourish in these areas, amply exposing the alarming state of degradation of Pampa that has been deemed as the lifeline of Central Travancore, Mr Nair said.
The PPS leader said a study conducted by the Central Water Commission has shown that the salinity intrusion into the Pampa has reached even upto Kozhencherry due to drastic lowering of the riverbed over the past two decades.
The PPS leader has also called upon the authorities to take immediate steps to declare all the sandbeds, including the degraded beds at Maramon and Cherukolpuzha, as heritage sites.
Mr Nair said the spreading presence of Cabomba, a fast-growing submerged aquatic weed species, along the Aranmula Sathram kadavu stretch of river Pampa is a major cause of concern showing slow death of the river.
The fast growth of this disastrous weed, especially along the river course at Aranmula, should be taken as an alarming threat to the river system as a whole, he said.
Mr Nair says Cabomba with its extremely dense strands obstructing the free flow of water is a serious threat to the water bodies. The dense growth of this aquatic weed promotes increased silting of the river, gradually making it shallow and dry, he adds.