Health risk to Sabarimala pilgrims, people downstream
: The Njunangar stream leading to river Pampa in the forest interiors of Appachimedu remains polluted by faecal matter, posing alarming health risk to pilgrims visiting Sabarimala and people residing in the downstream reaches of the river.
The authorities concerned have failed in their efforts to ensure safe disposal of the huge quantity of human waste generated at Sabarimala during the annual pilgrimage season.
The filth accumulated in the collection tanks at the Sannidhanam overflows into the origin of Njungnagr stream, a tributary of Pampa.
The filth flows freely into the Pampa, raising the coliform count in the river waters. As per official data available with the Kerala Pollution Control Board (PCB) office at Pampa, the total coliform count in the river had gone up to 3.55 lakh per100 ml as on Wednesday morning, against its maximum permissible limit of 500 per 100 ml.
The PCB said the faecal coliform count in the Pamapa waters near Njunangar stream was 1.95 lakh per 100 ml. The bio-chemical oxygen demand in the river water too was found extremely high, PCB sources said.
Neither the Health Department nor the PCB has made any attempt to analyse the water for the presence of pathogens for polio, cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, and various other parasitic worms.
The proposal for setting up a modern sewage treatment facility at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam 16 years ago has been kept in abeyance for reasons best known to the authorities concerned.
Ironically, the PCB had initiated direct treatment of the Njunangar stream, using contaminated ferrous chloride, an industrial waste of a private company, in 2009, posing heavy metal contamination of the entire riverine system too that is more hazardous than the bacterial contamination.