Special Correspondent

Government wants the campaign to be a coordinated effort

  • River Protection Authority, with powers to prosecute river abusers, on the anvil
  • PCB road map for zero-effluent dumping

    KOCHI: The Government is planning to launch a `Save Periyar' initiative after consultations with all the stakeholders and users of the river, including local residents, environmental activists and non-governmental organisations.

    A meeting would be called at the Aluva Town Hall in about a month in this regard. Apart from officials of the departments concerned and technical experts, people concerned about the current health of Kerala's longest river will be invited to express their views and suggestions. The exact date of the meeting was yet to be determined, but it would be called after the current session of the Assembly is over. The Government wants the campaign to be a coordinated effort with the involvement of all sections of people affected by the plight of the river.

    This was the outcome of a meeting of senior officials, MLAs and panchayat presidents called by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. The meeting, also attended by Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran, was held against the backdrop of the discolouration of the Periyar during the Onam holiday.

    Thursday's meeting also decided that the Ministers of Health, Industries and Water Resources as well as the MLAs from the basin, would meet within a few days to chart out the outline of the `Save Periyar' initiative. The Government does not want the Periyar protection issue to be reduced to a narrow perspective of chemical contamination by the industries at the tail-end alone.

    Their outline will be presented to the wider consultation to be held in Aluva.

    14-point action plan

    The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB), during the meeting on Thursday, suggested a 14-point action plan to police the river and to check dumping of chemical effluents. These included: setting up of an online water contamination monitoring system, on the lines of the one set up for Philips Carbon company to monitor air pollution; building of roads along the banks of the river in the Edayar area; provision of a speedboat to patrol the river; upgrading the staff strength of the PCB; and, the setting up of a common effluents treatment plant for the nearly 200 small-scale industries in the Edayar area.

    The PCB has made a roadmap for zero-effluent dumping. It aims to cut down the dumping to 20 per cent of what it is today over the next two years.

    The Water Resources Minister pointed out that a River Protection Authority, with the powers to prosecute river abusers, was on the anvil.

    A Bill was likely to be presented in the next session of the Assembly, he said.