THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Close on the heels of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) marking Eloor industrial area one of the toxic hotspot for persistent organic pollutant (POP), the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) together with the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has reported that the water quality index of the Periyar river flowing through Eloor is extremely poor. This was revealed in a study report published in the 'Environment Monitoring Programme on Water Quality-2009' which was released by the Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan here on Friday as part of the Environment Day celebration organised by the KSCSTE. The report has findings of the study on the three river basins of the state - Kabini, Neyyar and Periyar. The water was sampled from as many as 24 different sites along the course of the Periyar river and studied for several parameters right from temperature and hardness to the presence of pesticides and metals. Groundwater samples were also collected from the Periyar river basin. Classification and analysis of the river based on Central Pollution Control Board criteria reveals that stations downstream are under Class D, indicating that the water in this stretch is not suitable for drinking, but can be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.However, at least seven stations in Eloor are under Class E, indicating that it cannot be used for even agriculture.In fact Periyar, one of the most polluted rivers in the state, has also been found to be very acidic especially in the industrial belt of Eloor.Turbidity and electrical conductivity of the water is high, indicating a highlevel of pollution of the aquatic body.The suspended particles were high in Eloor, School kadavu, Depo kadavu, Manjummal and Methanam kadavu.The total dissolved solids, which shows the mineralised nature of the water, was the highest from the sample collected from Eloor Ferry at 2342.42 mg/l.Alkalinity was also high in the downstream stretches of Periyar.At the six sampling stations in the Eloor industrial area, the concentration of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium were found to be high. Iron concentration was found to be abnormally high at 14 locations in the river basin and abnormally high in the Edayar region. The study says that the conversion of the iron to ferric hydroxide could be the reason for the periodic red coloration of Periyar.An examination of the groundwater samples have shown that almost all the groundwater samples were microbiologically contaminated.Only 28 percent of the samples can be considered as safe for drinking purpose.E-Coli was reported in 62 percent samples.The Kuzhikandam creek at Eloor, into which the HIL, FACT, IRE and Merchem lets out their effluents, is a cocktail of various chemicals and hazardous pollutants.This creek opens out into the Periyar and is a major cause for the pollution of Periyar.It maybe recalled that several environmental activists have been demanding a more stringent monitoring system to control pollution at Eloor.
The New Indian Express, 6th June 2009