The government has said that the Periyar Action Plan will be modified with definite timeline and fund allocation for identified projects.
The assurance was given before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had pulled up the authorities for the inordinate delay in implementing the action plan to rejuvenate the river.
On the plan to set up a common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in the Edayar industrial area, the government said industrial units had been asked to form a special purpose vehicle or a consortium to set up CETPs and to ensure their operation and maintenance. The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has been told to extend technical assistance to such projects.
The report submitted by the government said the Local Self-Government department (LSGD) was regularly reviewing and monitoring issues related to the formulation of a revised action plan. Performance audit supervisors have been asked to conduct field-level visits.
The Superintending Engineer, LSGD, will hold meetings with local bodies and obtain action plan for practical solutions. The Irrigation department said the action plan was being worked out with the support of the District Collectors concerned.
The Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, has informed local bodies that the funds required for setting up sewage treatment plants (STPs) could be availed from the 2021-22 Plan Fund. The funds for solid waste management projects can be availed from the World Bank assistance for solid waste management. The Kerala Water Authority will extend assistance in setting up STPs.
The NGT had pulled up the government for the “utter lack of concern for the continuing serious pollution [of the Periyar river] and consequences on public health and environment. It continues to cause deaths and diseases and also affect food safety on account of polluted water being used for irrigation.” Reports of the authorities during the past several years did not point to improvement in water quality of the river at any of the locations in question, it said.