Periyar catching fire over pollution

The Periyar river has been subjected to indiscriminate pollution by the industries on its banks.  

Protests over pollution of the Periyar, the drinking water source of Kochi, is gathering momentum. It may soon take the shape of a mass movement, which would assert the right of people for safe drinking water.

As protest is simmering over the release of untreated effluents from Sree Sakthi Paper Mills to the river, a team of senior officials of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) will inspect the discharge points on Monday.

The team includes the Chief Engineer, two senior engineers, two officials from the local office, and a scientist. Civic body representatives and representatives of the protestors will accompany the team.

The future course of action will be decided based on the report of the team, said PCB Chairman K. Sajeevan.

Meanwhile, social and environmental activists are mobilising support against the reported “poisoning of drinking water of people of Kochi,” and the inaction of the authorities. Two days after issuing closure notice to the company, which was found discharging huge quantities of untreated/partially treated effluents, the PCB gave conditional clearance for the paper mill. The company made some modifications and has agreed to store the discharge in its storage facility. It has also assured that no effluents will be released to the river again. The company has also time till June 30 to upgrade its facilities, defending its decision to permit the company resume the operations, Mr. Sajeevan said.

Continuous monitoring

As the PCB has not collected legally valid samples from the river, it may not be possible to take action against the company at this stage. The company was asked to down shutters when the difference in the pH value came to the notice of the officials. Continuous monitoring will be put in place to track the pollution levels, said Mr. Sajeevan.

The PCB will also hold a meeting on May 14 to take a final call on the issue, he said.

Meanwhile, Martin Gopurathingal, one of the key campaigners of the programme, said the “poisoning of the drinking water of Kochi” cannot be permitted any longer and the polluters will not be allowed to go scot-free again. It’s the issue of the right of the people to have access to safe drinking water. A group of theatre activists continued to stage street plays across the district to create awareness on the issue, he said.

A mass gathering will be organised on May 13 highlighting the pollution issues faced by the Periyar and calling for cleaning up the drinking water source of Kochi. National-level green campaigners will attend the meeting. Documentaries, pictures and photographs highlighting the pollution issues will also be displayed, he said.

River’s travails

PCB team to inspect discharge points on Monday

May-14 PCB meet to take a final call on the issue

National-level green campaigners to attend mass meet on May 13

Protest against release of effluents from Sree Sakthi Paper Mills to the river

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 4:29:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/periyar-catching-fire-over-pollution/article8574801.ece

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