Pollution levels alarming in Tamirabharani river

: Even as the first phase of encroachment eviction drive on the banks of the Tamirabharani has been completed and cleaning of the thorny bushes on the sloping land besides the water body has been going on for the past few Saturdays, a lot of things needs to be done to really save the river, as the pathological quality of this river has reached an alarming status.

This is due to animal, human and industrial waste being allowed to mix up though the river quenches the thirst of millions of population in four southern districts. This pathological level crosses the serious phase during the Sorimuthu Ayyanar Temple Aadi amavasai festival.

According to A.G. Murugesan, Professor of Sri Paramakalyani Centre of Excellence in Environmental Sciences of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, who has been working on the environmental quality of the Tamirabarani river for more than two decades, reveals that the pathological quality of the river water is in an alarming status and in general the water quality of Tamirabarani is worsening mainly by organic inputs through direct discharge of domestic sewage, dumping of garbage and intrusion of animal wastes at several places.

Faecal coliform bacterial counts are found in more number and may cause pathogenicity. The peak levels of this bacterial contamination can be observed only when lakhs of pilgrims gather at Kaaraiyaar for Sorimuthu Ayyanar Temple festival.

“The Sudden increase in faecal coliform bacteria observed for the past several years in the upstream sites from Kaaraiyaar to Papanasam during the Sorimuthu Ayyanar temple festival in the eve of Aadi Amaavaasai is badly felt by the public and others concerned over environment and human health. People should not consume the water containing coliform. Several lakhs of devotees used to stay for a week in a contained area and use the river water for all their needs.

Even though the government and authorities are more conscious in providing good number of temporary lavatories for the use of the pilgrims they do not use and maintain them properly and open defecation during the festival is very common. Moreover, thousands of animals sacrificed are cleaned in the river water before cooking. The gut content of the animals and discarded tissues are mixed with the river water, which seriously pollute the river,” Dr. Murugesan says.

As the Western Ghats used to experience drizzle or even rain during the northwest monsoon, it will facilitate easy discharge of the animal remnants and faecal matters into the main stream to take coliform level to the most serious level and may trigger waterborne diseases to the consumers.

Hence, the pilgrims visiting the temple should think about the need for environmental conservation, the conservation of Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and the Tamirabharani, he says.