At a time when the district is reeling under severe water crisis, the prime water source of over 30 families of a colony in Mundakayam has been contaminated by suspected poisoning by unidentified anti-social elements.
The confluence of two canals, Perithode and Manjalaruvy thode, has remained the sole drinking water supply source of Thonippara Colony for over 15 years. The water source has also been beneficial for over 200 families of Kannimala, the 15th ward of the Mundakayam grama panchayat, during the peak of summer.
Water is collected within the catchment area prepared by a temporary embankment using sand bags in a manner preventing outward flow in the downstream. The water is diverted to a collection pool from which water is pumped to a 10,000 litre tank. The Manjalaruvy Drinking Water Supply Society manages the water supply scheme that was launched in 1990 with an approximate expenditure of Rs. 7 lakh.
Panic spread across the locality after thousands of small fish were found floating on the surface of the water in the wee hours of Friday. Local residents claim that the fish were killed as the result of the use of poison (or ‘nanchu’ in local parlance) late on Thursday. The use of ‘nanchu’, mostly prepared using a mixture of chemicals or poisonous seeds, is an illegal method of fishing. While the use of country bombs is another method for a large haul of fish and relatively less harmful, the residents rule out the possibility of its use. They said its use would have created a loud explosion and thereby alerted them. The oiliness in the water also points to the use of chemicals. According to society president Baven Joseph, the beneficiaries of the project are left with no other option but to continue using the water for their daily needs. “The colony dwellers generally consume the water after boiling. There has been no marked change in its taste. However, we do not know if its use could cause health problems in the longer run,” he said.
Babychen Plackatt, vice-president of Mundakayam gramapanchayat and a resident of Kannimala, condemned the inhumane act. He said the problem could have been caused by the use of ‘nanchu’, adding , the water samples would be soon sent for examination by officials of the Health Department.
Despite having received a complaint, the local police is yet to commence an investigation into the incident.