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Kottayam Environmental Degradation

Kottayam Environmental Degradation

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Published by: naveenthomas123 on Nov 14, 2010
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As per the 2001 census.646 and a population density of 1025 per square kilometer.G Balakrishnan. lakes and latex. Ettumanoor. 3 . It is known as ³the land of letters. namely. Kottayam district had a population of 1. it became the first town in India to achieve 100 percent literacy.´ On June 25th. Two major rivers flow through the district.ABOUT KOTTAYAM Kottayam is one among the 14 states of Kerala. The main towns in the district are Kottayam. It has no coastal areas. K. Changanassery and Kanjirapally. 1989. Kottayam district has a total area of 2208 square kilometers.953. Pala.R Narayanan and the present Chief Justice of India ± K. It has been home to many eminent personalities including Former President of India ± Dr. Meenachil and Manimala.

Thiruvananthapuram.WATER POLLUTION IN THE LAND OF LAKES Kottayam is well known for its water bodies. potassium. The rest were all polluted. and also fatty acids. Among the water bodies identified. there are around 48 minor water bodies in the district.5 square metres to 1000 square metres. calcium. Inlets and outlets in water bodies in Kottayam Water bodies with: Only Inlets Only Outlets Both Inlets and Outlets Neither Inlets nor Outlets TOTAL Percentage 29% 19% 21% 31% 100% In a study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS). manganese. The pollutants found were organic. which range in size from 1. inorganic. it was found that only around 7 percent of these water bodies were clean enough for domestic usage. Sewage water from households and hotels were found to be the main polluters of six other water bodies. Other than these. etc. five were heavily polluted by industrial wastes. This included wastes from tile. The most famous ones are the Vembanad Lake and the Meenachil River. biological and foreign physical substances. amino acids and other substances 4 . rubber and latex factories. Such untreated sewage water and other organic wastes contain elements like sodium. timber.

parasitic worms and pathogenic viruses. dumping of wastes. rather than being transmitted in straight lines.) These water bodies are used for several purposes. pharmaceutical purposes. It was also found that such waste water contains bacteria.which cause eutrophication* in these water bodies. the water body in Nagampadom was found to be highly polluted. *(Eutrophication is an increase in the concentration of nutrient content to an extent that increases the primary productivity of the water body. 5 . such as fish culture. Turbidity is the property that causes light to be scattered and absorbed. Among these. Nagampadom is a thickly populated residential area in the heart of Kottayam. The researchers from CDS studied the turbidity in three main water bodies in the district. Some serve only as wetlands to mitigate the effect of floods.

Sadly. Earlier. It used to be a continuous river that started and ended in 6 . the depth of the rivers enhances and the mud walls on either side collapse posing a major threat to nearby houses and farms. It runs along the north-western part of Kottayam Town. Thousands of farmers use water from the river for agriculture. it creates an ecological imbalance.15000. It also affects the stability of bridges built across the river. It is through this river that the rain water from the eastern hills are discharged into the sea. creating a scarcity of drinking water. Since it is a very lucrative business.MEENACHIL RIVER ± A VICTIM OF SAND MINING The Meenachil River flows right through the heart of Kottayam. defying the bans imposed by the Government from time to time. this mighty river is a victim of indiscriminate sand mining. Trees on the banks are also uprooted. Major towns and commercial centres have come up on its banks.10000 to Rs. As a result of this. with an average width of 30 metres. It enters the Vembanad lake before reaching the sea and has a major share in shaping the water bodies in and around Kottayam. Palai and Kottayam depend on this river for drinking water and water for commercial activities. when road transport was not much developed. This depletes water table in nearby areas. and therefore there is a huge demand for river sand. It is about 1km long. Good quality sand costs anywhere between Rs. goods were transported through this river on µkettuvallams¶ (houseboats). It has been mercilessly exploited. Due to endless sand mining. many illegal traders employ labourers to collect sand from the river at night. depending on the demand. Lakhs of people and many major towns like Erattupetta. The construction business is booming in Kerala. Moreover. Mundar River is a small tributary of the Meenachil. the river bed has been sinking deeper and deeper.

the Nagampadom bus stand and a railway bridge. Eventually. The water does not flow anymore.the Meenachil river. It has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. the river was encroached for the development of a stadium. snakes. It has now become a marsh due to proliferation of weeds and siltation. The river now has a dead end close to the railway bridge. ³Rejuvenation of Mundar River´ has been taken up as a demonstration project under the Kottayam Ecocity Project. rats and other insects. 7 . as the town grew. As a result of all this. The wastewater from the nearby areas has been entering the river leading to eutrophication.

Industrial and agro-chemical residues. municipal sewage. But now there are new stakeholders and the use of its resources are dominated by private parties. It is now a major event which lakhs of people. near Alappuzha every year. It also has a number of mangrove species. Tourism is a major industry in Kerala. It is facing a grave environmental threat due to pollution from various human activities. of which three are reported to be found in Kumarakom alone. it has a bird sanctuary which is home to 91 species of local and 50 species of migratory birds. 8 .VEMBANAD LAKE ± THE FLIP SIDE OF TOURISM BOOM Vembanad is the largest wetland system on the west-coast of India. in which everyone has an equal share. Realizing its potential. such as tourist resorts. The Vembanad Lake covers an area of 200 square kilometers. and is just over 96. The mangrove forests are feeding and breeding grounds for numerous species of fishes. domestic wastes. Other than the beautiful backwaters. the tourism department started promoting it. The development of lake tourism could be attributed to the Nehru Trophy Boat Race which held in the Punnamada Lake. Tourist started coming to watch the boat race in the 80¶s. and most of it is centred around the Vembanad lake. including foreign tourists attend. effluents from motor boats and lake tourism are the major sources of pollution. It covers an area of 1512 square kilometers. Vembanad lake is a common resource. Kumarakom was one of the first destinations around the Vembanad Lake to capitalize on tourism.5 kilometres in length and approximately 14 kilometres wide at its widest point.

As a result. Earlier. The resorts along the banks of the lake have privatized and appropriated it without any regard for the rules and regulations framed by the local panchayats. This has destructed the breeding grounds for a number of fishes. leaving many fishermen unemployed. 9 . The out board engines provided in the houseboats spill kerosene into the water adding to the pollution.The local people who made a living by fishing and collecting shells from the lake are now denied access to some areas by these resorts. The fishes caught from the lake have become inedible because of the kerosene taste. motor boats and house boats in these waters has resulted in the damaging of fishing nets of the community. clean utensils or take baths in the lake. It has also affected the privacy of women and children who used to wash clothes. the banks were covered with thick mangrove forests. These have been cut down and granite walls have been put up by the resorts to get a better vision of the lake from their property. The increased number of speedboats. the number in fishes in the area has decreased. The wastes from hotels and houseboats are dumped into the lake.

According to Dr. Likewise. So far. This yard was originally a compost manufacturing yard. This anaerobic decomposition has led to the rise of stench in the locality. the authorities have been unable to stop the stench from coming out of the yard. to look into the issue. posing a threat to public health. which later leads to a leachate flow. During that time. Joy. the local residents have been complaining to the authorities about the spread of several skin diseases and other epidemics. The District Congress Committee had set up an expert panel. The local people have been protesting against this by blocking the vehicles carrying wastes into the yard. ³Contrary to scientific methods. There are several schools in this area too. many other factors like the inability to block the seepage of rain water. The authorities used police force to chase away protestors and continued with the dumping process. have been responsible for the present crisis. led by environment expert Dr.´ He also said that the Ramky Group which was responsible for waste management in the dumping yard did not follow standard accepted practices. This led to piling up of garbage all across Kottayam town. the dumping at the yard is being done in such a manner that there is no flow of air into the garbage heap. Vadavathoor is also a major residential area. For a long time. which is about five kilometers away from the centre of Kottayam town.P. solid wastes contained mainly organic matter. back in the 1950¶s and 60¶s. Joy.WASTE DISPOSAL ± THE VADAVATHOOR STORY Waste disposal. per se. is a major challenge facing Kottayam. 10 . The town¶s biggest dumping yard is situated in Vadavathoor. K.

The school has a large compost unit inside the campus. It has also conducted seminars. There are community bins which are not properly located. Some households even resort to burning wastes. situated in Kalathilpady (near Vadavathoor) is known for having championed the cause of waste management in Kottayam town. and all the organic wastes from the school and hostel are treated there and converted into organic fertilizer. which increases pollution levels. 11 . As a result.The system of waste management is also not efficient. Pallikoodam School (earlier known as Corpus Christi High School). by inviting students from other schools and educating them about the need to manage wastes properly. we find waste scattered all around and sometimes dumped into drainage canals.

More schools should take an active interest in such matters and educate their students about the need to conserve and protect our environment. 12 . such as panchayats and the municipality should undertake awareness programmes to educate the public about the measures they can take in order to manage their wastes efficiently without harming the environment. People should take a pledge not to do activities that are detrimental to the any of the water bodies or the entire ecosystem. industries and authorities alike. The local authorities.CONCLUSION What is needed now is a proactive approach from the public. Making them aware of the importance of conserving nature is the only way forward. Children are our future.

µSand mining defaces rivers¶ ± The Hindu Business Line. by Susy Abraham and Madanakumar C. dated March 27th.REFERENCES En. by Prof. Varkey Mathew 13 .wikipedia.K. 2002 µVembanad Lake and Tourism¶ ± EQUATIONS Solid Waste Management in Kottayam Town.org Minor Water Bodies In Kottayam Municipality Area: A Bio-ecological Study.

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