‘River pollution poses grave health risks to people'
People residing in the Pampa river basin up to Kuttanad are exposed to grave health risks during the ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku' pilgrimage season since the river gets increasingly polluted then, N.K. Sukumaran Nair, Pampa Parirakshana Samiti general secretary, has said. The authorities have not succeeded in reducing pollution at its source itself, he alleged.
Travancore Devaswom Board's statistics reveal that pilgrims numbering almost double the State's population visit Sabarimala in just two months every year. But, neither the TDB nor the government could arrange safe drinking water for the pilgrims, according to Mr. Nair.
“The Kerala Water Authority does not have a drinking water treatment plant at Pampa or Sabarimala. Its process of supplying chlorinated water to the pilgrim centre is unscientific,” Mr. Nair said.
In a memorandum to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the PPS leader said: “Pollution of the Pampa has been a major environmental issue for the Central Travancore region and Kuttanad. Viral fevers and waterborne diseases assume an epidemic proportion in the region during the post-pilgrimage season. This is a testimony to the health threat posed by the pollution of Pampa with human waste and other pollutants.”
Mr. Nair said it was unfortunate that the State could not yet implement the Rs.320-crore Centrally-sponsored Pampa Action Plan of 2003 aimed at pollution abatement of the river. The PPS leader alleged that pollution control measures at Sabarimala were not effective.
In the Kuttanad Package, the M.S. Swaminathan Commission too had stressed the need to implement the Pampa Action Plan to address the region's woes, he said.
Plan for four rivers
Mr. Nair called upon the government to bring out a conservation plan for the four rivers — Pampa, Achencoil, Meenachil, and Manimala — at the earliest.