'The ghost town of Bhramapuram' - The News Minute series
The Kadambrayar that starts from the Kizhakakmbalam wetlands is joined by around 40 minor streams along its course, before joining the Chithrapuzha at Brahmapuram in Ernakulam.
These two rivulets are the primary sources of drinking water supplied to nearly nine panchayats. The present dismal state of these water bodies however seems to be of no concern to the state government.
In 2009, a study by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) had revealed the presence of faecal coliform and total coliform bacteria in its waters.
In 2011, another study by a group of students from the Government Boys Vocational Higher Secondary School at Tripunithura found that 90% of the open wells on its shores had faecal contamination.
In the same year, KSPCB too re-confirmed the same. According to the KSPCB report, faecal coliform levels in both the rivulets in and around the Brahmapuram area was around a shocking 672 mpn/100 ml. The permissible limit according to WHO standards is less than 2mpn/100ml.
In the Manackakadavu area where the Kadambrayar flows, the faecal coliform level was 268.33 mpn/100 ml. A latest study by KSPCB shows the total coliform count in the Brahmapuram area as above 500 mpn/100ml.
Dissolved oxygen levels are 1.68 mg/litre, whereas the minimum requirement is 4 mg/litre prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Such low levels could result in the extinction of the nearby flora and fauna.
Illegal dumping of the waste -including discharge of septic waste- is the main cause of pollution in the Thrikkakara, Kalamassery, Manakkakadavu and Brahmapuram areas through which these rivulets flow.
Chithrapuzha, Irumpanam stretch
Residents complain that large quantities of slaughter waste also get dumped here. They also express concern over the foul smell that emanates from the water near Manakkakadavu and Brahmapuram.
Speaking to The News Minute, environmental activist Dr CM Joy opines that waste dumping by private parties is not solely responsible for this precarious situation. That the Kochi Corporationâ€™s waste dumping yard is located where both these rivulets join is not something that can be ignored.
â€śThe land at Brahmapuram was earlier a wetland, where rice was originally cultivated along the banks of the Chithrapuzha and the Kadambrayar. Legally, waste dumping on the bank of a river is not allowed. Moreover, it is also illegal to convert marshy land into a waste-dumping ground.â€ť
Basheer Koichal -another environmental activist- remarks that these rivulets were once the source of livelihood for many farmers and fishermen.
â€śFauna in the rivers is almost nil now. Though polluted, many households still get water from here. In the 80s, these were our lifelines. Around 44,000 people residing on their banks depend on its resources. The Brahmapuram stretch of Kadambrayar is among the 150 most polluted rivers in the country listed by the CPCB,â€ť he adds.