Fish deaths and change in the colour of the water in the Periyar have become recurrent problems.

Protest held against Pollution Control Board for ignoring the state of Periyar river
news Pollution Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 09:12

On World Water Day, conceptualised by the United Nations to promote saving fresh water resources, environmental activists in Kochi took to the street, this time protesting against the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). The green activists carried out a protest march to KSPCB’s office in Eloor raising their voices against the apathy of officials over the state of affairs of the Periyar River.

The protest was conducted jointly by the Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithy (PMVS) and Jana Jagratha, organisation that work towards the protection of environment. The two organisations have once again alleged that KSPCB officials were not taking stringent action against industries polluting the river.

Since last December, fish deaths and change in the colour of the water in the Periyar have become recurrent problems. However, the latest report by the KSPCB gave a clean chit to industries

A report submitted by the KSPCB’s environmental engineer to district Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla has irked green activists.“In the report, the KSPCB official has stated that organic waste from markets and households has polluted the river. On a daily basis, we are witnessing industrial effluents being discharged into the river,” Mahesh Kumar, member of Jana Jagratha told TNM.

TNM had accessed the March 12 report and it was evident that though the report tried to pin the blame on households and markets, it could not completely deny the role of industries.

The report stated that “it was not only activities of the industries which caused pollution to the river but also the domestic waste discharged should also be held highly responsible.”

The report then details how industries could possibly not be the cause of pollution. “Pollution Control Board has been conducting weekly inspections and sample collection from the industries located on the banks of the river. It has been found that all the companies have working waste water management plants. So things are under control as far as the industries are concerned. But there is an uncontrollable discharge of domestic sewage from residential flats, houses and municipality markets that leads to pollution. When it gets stagnant in the water reduces the level of oxygen thus leading to fish kill,” the report states.  

The way forward

The environmental activists who protested against KSPCB have also come up with a list of demands. Protestors also handed over these demands to the KSPCB officials on Friday. Their demands are as follows: 

  • The industries in the region should be made to follow zero discharge for one year as per the study reports of Supreme Court’s Monitoring Committee and as per the 2004-2005 environmental audit report of the Local Area Environment Committee.
  • A monitoring pathway should be built around the industrial belt of Eloor-Edayar region for community monitoring.
  • A subsurface dyke should be constructed alongside the monitoring pathway near to the industries so that effluents cannot be discharged.
  • The discharge pipes of each factories should be made openly visible with names of the industries marked on those pipes.
  • Public visibility should be ensured in the data that is being collected by the pollution control board from the routine sample check ups.  

“What the board does now is not enough. Just issuing notices to industries and not taking further action will not help reduce the river pollution. Only if the board accepts and implements these measures can we control river pollution,” environmentalist Purushan Eloor told TNM.

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