Proposal for scientific probe into Periyar pollution gathers dust

A view of the Eloor-Edayar industrial area on the banks of the Periyar, near Kochi.

A view of the Eloor-Edayar industrial area on the banks of the Periyar, near Kochi. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

The proposal for an independent scientific investigation to ascertain the alleged presence of unauthorised outlets from industrial units in the Eloor-Edayar industrial area into the Periyar is gathering dust for want of support from the authorities. This is despite the rising instances of discolouration of the river along the industrial region.

At least 10 incidents of discolouration near the industrial region have been reported since January this year. The latest instance was on Sunday when the area witnessed incessant heavy showers.

Since the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) did not conduct surprise inspections at industrial units suspected to be involved in illegal discharge of effluents, the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) on Solid Waste Management had submitted a proposal to appoint an independent committee to monitor pollution of the river, in August, 2020. In his report, SLMC Chairman A.V. Ramakrishna Pillai had observed that the PCB and other government departments concerned had failed to take stringent action against illegal activities, resulting in the pollution of the river.

The committee had proposed an independent panel comprising a chairman and five members. The chairman shall be an engineer or scientist outside the PCB, qualified in environmental engineering and with sufficient experience in the field of environment. The committee may be vested with powers to inspect any industry, hotels, high-rises, health care institutions, or other establishments on the banks of the Periyar and collect data from such units.

However, the proposal was shelved after the board claimed that such an independent body was not required. The government was also not in favour of such a panel, saying that it would affect its industry-friendly image. Board officials are yet to conduct any surprise inspection after detecting colour change in the river. Moreover, action has been confined to collecting samples from the affected regions.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 6:38:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/proposal-for-scientific-probe-into-periyar-pollution-gathers-dust/article65749770.ece