Idukki reservoir is a receptacle of garbage too

Children on a country boat wading through floating garbage at the reservoir area of the Idukki dam at Ayyappancoil.  

Idukki reservoir, one of the largest in Asia, has turned into a dumpyard for non-biodegradable wastes, with plastic and glass bottles, sanitary waste, and pesticide bottles flowing into the residential areas of Ayyappancoil, Kanchiyar, and Upputhara grama panchayats. When the water recedes, the waste gets deposited there.

Local residents say they face this problem every year when the water inflow increases during monsoon. Come summer, and the garbage is either deposited on the banks or floats on the waterbody posing a threat to human life and fish.

“This year the situation has become worse,” says Jiji V.K., a resident of Ayyappancoil. Tardy waste collection by the grama panchayat during the pandemic might be a reason for the massive dumping of garbage in the streams and rivers that flow to the reservoir.

The three panchayats are on the embankment area of the reservoir where water spreads to a large area by mid-monsoon. Once the water recedes, the area is spotted by heaps of non-bio degradable waste.

Urban waste

According to George Mathirapally, a resident of Ayyappancoil, red-labelled pesticide bottles used in the cardamom hill areas of Elamala are the biggest threat. They arrive through the Periyar and float on the still water of the reservoir. Most of the aluminium bottles contain pesticides, which spread in the water. “There have been instances of large-scale fishkill in the reservoir. No studies have been conducted yet to find the reason. The urban waste from far away towns like Vandiperiyar and Kattappana too find their way to the reservoir. As the dam area is wide, waste gets deposited in the creeks and pockets of earth created by the reservoir.”

Anchuruly, where the Kattappana river joins the reservoir, too has its share of piled up waste that come from the Kattappana municipal area.

Skin irritation

“No agency has taken up waste collection. People bathe in the reservoir water and skin irritation is often reported. Not to mention the odour emanating from the waste, including those from slaughterhouses,” says Mr. Jiji.

Santhosh Kumar, resident at Anchuruli, said the waste collection from households by local bodies should be strengthened. “Then people will not dump garbage in the streams that flow to the reservoir. In developed countries, there are gates on the face of tunnels and streams to prevent waste reaching reservoirs,” he said.

Animals in sanctuary

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary also faces the threat of garbage getting deposited on the banks. The scale is less when compared to the human-inhabited areas since the sanctuary is downstream of the dam. “However, the wildlife at the sanctuary is at risk since the reservoir is their main water source,” according to a Forest Department official.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 11:25:02 AM |

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