rganic and chemical contamination of surface and groundwater resources in the Valapattanam river in Kannur district, especially in its downstream, coupled with dumping of waste and unscientific sewage disposal has raised concerns about health hazards for people living in the river basin areas.
The quality of water tested for organic and chemical contamination is poor in the downstream, especially at Parassinikkadavu, Valapattanam, Azhikkal and Kattampalli, and marginal in the upstream areas.
The contamination from wood industries and saline intrusion are only aggravated by dumping of waste and abandoned crafts captured for illegal sand mining. The environmental monitoring programme on water quality conducted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) is an eye-opener to the water pollution in the river basin.
Local residents are up in arms and are planning to launch a stir to highlight the health risks from contamination of both surface and groundwater in the area.
The issue was taken seriously by the district administration. District Collector P. Bala Kiran, who visited the area on Sunday evening with P.K. Sreemathy, MP, and Superintendent of Police P.N. Unnirajan, assured the residents that steps would be taken to clear the garbage including captured crafts
“The abandoned crafts and garbage dumping are causing serious health hazards to the resident,” said K.L. Muhammad Ashsraf, local resident and ward member in the panchayat. The waste heap near the boat jetty at Valapattanam has turned the area into a mosquito breeding spot, Mr. Ashraf, who is chairman of the action committee, added.
When contacted, officials of the District Pollution Control Board here said that waste dumping is one of the major issues that aggravates the contamination of the surface and groundwater in the river basin.
They said that water samples taken from five points are being closely monitored for contamination.
Presence of salinity and chloride content is found to be exceeding the limits in the samples collected, they informed.
According to the KSCSTE’s environmental monitoring programme, the river basin is most polluted in Kandakkai, Parassinikkadavu, Valapattanam, Azheekkal and Kattampalli areas. Also worrying is the higher index for total coliform and faecal coliform bacteria in the surface water and groundwater samples. The percentage of surface water samples contaminated with E-Coli was 53 per cent in post-monsoon, said Kamalakshan Kokkal, environmental scientist at the KSCSTE.
Total Coliform and faecal Coliform count is also high in groundwater samples, Mr. Kokkal added.
The waste heap near the boat jetty at Valapattanam has turned the area into a mosquito breeding spot
River under threat:
Originating from Brahmagiri of Western Ghats of Kodagu, Valapattanam river is the largest river in the district, the mainstream totaling 110 km.
High total dissolved salt values observed in samples indicate pollution stress in the ecosystem.
Out of 19 water samples 11% and 32% of the total samples showed pH values less than 6.5 during post-monsoon and monsoon seasons respectively. Normal range is 6.5 - 8.5.
53% of surface water, 35% of groundwater samples contaminated with E Coli.