Coonoor River unfit for drinking, says report

An estimated five million litres of sewage each day gets disposed off in the Coonoor River. Coupled with the dumping of solid waste into the water body, the five km. stretch of the river, which cuts through Coonoor town, is now a highly polluted water body, unfit for drinking for both humans as well as animals.

However, the Coonoor Municipality, with the assistance of citizens’ groups, is now hoping to begin the long process of first getting people to stop dumping waste and sewage into the river, before proceeding to eventually clean it up.

Speaking to The Hindu, P. J. Vasanthan, a member of the Clean Coonoor citizens’ group, said that based on a report by researchers from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, who tested the water from the Kallar River, which is further downstream from the Coonoor River, it was found that coliform bacteria were of significantly higher numbers than were safe for consumption.

Local residents have long called for measures to be implemented that will stop the dumping of waste and sewage into the river.

J. Raghunathan, Municipal Health Officer, Coonoor, said that the municipality had identified “hotspots” along the length of the river, where people were dumping waste. He said that the hotspots, located near to the municipal market, Darlington Bridge, Krishnapuram and Kannimariamman Kovil, were the locations at which the highest amount of solid waste was being dumped into the river.

“As the municipality doesn’t have the funds necessary, we have appealed for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds from various private firms and individuals, using which we plan to erect chain-link fences around the river, at the identified hotspots, to prevent the dumping of waste into it,” said Mr. Raghunathan.

Activists state that unless the municipality succeeds in preventing people from dumping waste into the river, a concerted cleanup operation makes little sense.

“As per our estimate, there is anywhere between 50-70 tonnes of solid waste alone which has built up in the river over the last 15-20 years. Even if we get 50 volunteers to work on cleaning up the river every weekend, it would take us up to two years to clean up the waste,” said Mr. Vasanthan.

Mr. Vasanthan said that the accumulation of solid waste was leading to the artificial and unintended building of dams and river banks, which was altering the course of the river. He said that this could potentially lead to flooding in the future.

As for the solution towards dealing with the sewage, municipality officials said that there was a plan to set up a sewage treatment plant, where sewage collected from different parts of the town will be brought and treated before being released. However, that particular plan still remains a long way from implementation, they added.

“For now, we are conducting awareness campaigns to convince people to not dispose of their garbage in the river, and we are to start fining tourists as well who are littering and improperly disposing of waste,” said Mr. Raghunathan.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 12:32:35 AM |

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