TAMIL NADU

Pampa Action Plan: Centre asks for report

PATHANAMTHITTA DEC. 25. The Union Minister of State for Urban Development, O. Rajagopal, who heads a Central team on the proposed Pampa Action Plan (PAP), has said that the Union Government would sanction the project aimed at checking pollution in the Pampa once the State Government completed the formalities.

Mr. Rajagopal, accompanied by the Director of the Union Ministry of Environment, R.P. Sarma, and the Additional Director, R.B. Tandon, was talking to presspersons here today.

The Union Minister said that the State Government should first prepare a detailed project report on the PAP specifying the long-term and short-term projects. It had submitted a feasibility report and the Centre had offered all possible assistance.

The Central team received certain representations regarding the PAP and discussed various aspects of the action plan with the State officials and a public committee of experts.

Mr. Sarma said that the prime consideration should be to address the pollution problem at its main sources — Sabarimala and Pampa. According to him, it might not be possible for the Centre to take up all the proposals in the action plan. The Minister said experts had stressed the need to concentrate on the pollution control measures at Sabarimala and surrounding areas by ensuring a foolproof sanitation system.

There were allegations that many avoidable construction-oriented projects had been incorporated in the pre-feasibility report, and the public expert committee headed by the former PWD Chief Engineer, P. Velappan Nair, criticised it as deviation from the prime concern of pollution abatement at its main source.

Mr. Rajagopal said that the State Government should set up a nodal agency to co-ordinate and monitor the proposed action plan. According to him, different Central as well as State Ministries such as the Urban Development, Rural Development, Environment and Forests and Water Resources, had various development schemes that could be appropriately used for the implementation of the action plan.

He said the Urban Development Ministry had already agreed to the Devaswom Minister, G. Karthikeyan, that it would extend the necessary financial assistance to the State Government for providing temporary retiring facilities with self-contained toilets, refreshment stalls, etc., on the Pampa-Sannidhanam trekking path as at Tirupathi, provided the State Government submitted a detailed project report to that effect. The Member-Secretary of the State Pollution Control Board, K.V. Indulal, the environment engineer, K. Sajeevan, the former executive engineer, Irrigation Department, T.P. Pankajakshan Pillai, and architect, G. Sankar, took part in the discussions earlier.