Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

Low water level at Pampa bathing ghats

PATHANAMTHITTA: The low water level in the Pampa on the foothills of Sabarimala compounded by the high pollution during the last lap of the Makaravilakku pilgrim season is posing health hazard to pilgrims and people living in the downstream reaches of the river basin.

The water level at the Pampa bathing ghats was lowered to such a level that pilgrims were unable to take the holy dip, `Pampa-snanom.' They were seen squatting in ankle-deep water and pouring water from plastic mugs and other vessels.

The river water is highly polluted with the flow of filth from the Sannidhanam through the Njunangar stream. There are reports of drainages emptying out into the Njunangar as well as the Pampa.

The law enforcers have also not been able to check open defecation at the bathing ghats by pilgrims and workers attached to commercial establishments at Pampa. Though the Kerala State Electricity Board reportedly released water from the Kullar dam on January 13 and from the Swami Saranam wier attached to the Kochu Pampa dam on January 14 and 15, the water level in the Pampa remained low on Monday.

According to Mr. Sreekumar, KSEB executive engineer in Kochu Pampa, the Board released 24,000 cubic metres of water from the Kullar dam on January 13 as demanded by the TDB.

This was in addition to 9,000 cubic metres and 15,000 cubic metres of water released from the Swami Saranam wier on January 14 and 15.

The water in the Njunangar has almost turned into a thick viscous fluid, as the stream carries the entire fluid waste from the Sannidhanam, which does not have a sewage treatment facility.

Even if the filth is flushed out from the Pampa bathing ghats, the water ultimately drains out into the backwaters of Kuttanad, posing serious health risk to the multitudes settled on the river basin.

According to Ganapati Rao, chief physician at the Ayyappa Medical Centre in Pampa, run by the Kochi-based Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, the majority of cases reported at the hospital during the past one week were related to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea.