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Kerala Govt Asked To Assess Contamination Levels In Pampa River  
Source:   Business line City   : Kochi Published On   13-01-2010  


The Pampa Parirakshana Samithy (PPS), a voluntary environmental organisation, has urged the Kerala Government to conduct a comprehensive study on the functioning of the existing sewage treatment plant (STP) and the Pampa river water treatment so as to assess the actual contamination levels in the river water during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season which is coming to a close later this week.

In a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary and Devaswom Special Secretary, Mr N.K. Sukumaran Nair, General Secretary, PPS, has requested the Government to give appropriate direction to the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to monitor chemical contamination, including the presence of heavy metals in the water, and to avoid the use of highly toxic ferrous chloride and replace it with alum, lime or any other eco-friendly materials or apply other eco-friendly methods.

He said that highly contaminated chemicals such as ferric chloride and ferrous chloride were understood to have been used for sewage and river water treatment at Pampa.

Ferrous chloride which contains contaminated heavy metals and chemicals was used for STP and for river treatment during previous years also, “but it is highly regrettable to understand that no chemical analysis for heavy metals was conducted by any government agencies. Even now no study has been conducted by the KSPCB despite reports on the subject had appeared in several national dailies,” he alleged.

Slow poisoning

According to Mr Nair the disputed chemical, ferrous chloride, is contaminated with heavy concentration of iron as well as cadmium, zinc, nickel, chromium, mercury, titanium, lead etc. These metals are capable of slow poisoning, if it is consumed along with drinking water, causing lungs, liver, heart, blood and bone diseases and cancer. The need to stop contamination of the Pampa River water becomes more relevant and rather significant because of the fact that there are about 30 lakhs people, inhabitants of the river basin right from Pampa to Kuttanad, use the river water for their daily needs.

According to experts, a Kochi-based company, which has been entrusted with the job to control contamination of the river, has found the river treatment as means of dumping of their toxic wastes and at the same time gets credit as the cleaner of Pampa as they claim that coliform bacteria in the river water is considerably reduced. During the last festival season 98,000 litres of ferrous chloride was supplied by the company free of cost.

According to Mr Nair during the last pilgrimage season on January 13, 2009 coliform bacteria count in the river beyond the point where river treatment was done stood at 1.6 lakh MPN per 100 ml while it was at 1.3 lakh MPN per 100 ml down stream below the treatment point. It shows that the treatment has not impacted any significant reduction in the coliform bacteria level.

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