Alappuzha: The Vembanad Lake, Kerala’s famed backwater destination, is dying a slow death thanks to a sheet of plastic waste in the lake bed and a layer of hyacinths on the surface, reported a committee led by minister Mercykutty Amma. The report, prepared by 10 scientists, will be submitted before the government as early as next week.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan assigned the scientists, led by his science adviser M.C. Dathan, to look into the deteriorating condition of the lakes and wetlands of Kerala, including the Vembanad Lake, Ashtamudi Lake, and Sasthamkotta Lake.
The Vembanad Lake may be picked in the first phase of a revival project the state government plans to roll out in association with the Union environment ministry. A special authority will be formed to look after the three major lakes.
“A special authority will be formed to preserve the three water bodies. Apart from conservation and regulation, the authority will have a new unit to implement the new project,” environmental department additional chief secretary James Varghese said.
The government will form a two-pronged strategy on the basis of a interim report submitted by the committee. A plan of action will be announced in the final report expected to be submitted next week.
The plan involves the flushing out of the rubbish accumulated in the lake and preventing the dumping of waste.
Flood of misery
Unprocessed waste from urban areas from Kochi to Kozhencherry eventually finds their way to the Vembanad Lake. The water is not fit for drinking. The accumulation of chemical waste leads to frequent bouts of epidemics.
The water flow has virtually stopped at many places and the oxygen level depleted. The alarming spread of water hyacinth has degraded the quality of the lake’s water and threatened the existence of fish and other creatures.
Clear and preset danger
The only way out of the morass is the cleanup of the lakes. The waste accumulated in the lake beds and on the surface has to be removed. The natural ways of flushing out waste water through Thanneermukkam and Thottappilly have been blocked.
There has to be a way to find a vent for the stagnant water. In the next phase of the program, water hyacinths have to be removed.
The municipal and industrial waste water from the urban areas has to be processed as part of a long-term plan. Waste treatment plants have to be set up in Pala, Kottayam, Kozhencherry, Tiruvalla, Chengannur, Kochi, Alappuzha and Vaikom.
The fertilizer wastes and pesticide flows from farmlands have to stop through an awareness campaign among farmers.