Unholy mess

The Pampa river in Kerala is dying a slow death

Published: Friday 31 December 1999

THOMAS P THOMASThe Pampa river in Kerala is slowly dying due to environmental degradation. Also known as Dakshina Ganga because of its historic relationship with the Sabarimala Temple, the river originates from the Sabari hills in the Western Ghats and flows west through the districts of Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Allappuzha. It is also the third-longest river in Kerala and flows through one of the most densely populated regions of the state. Experts say that the primary cause for degradation is extensive deforestation in the catchment areas. Unscientific and uncontrolled sand mining is also to be blamed for the drying up of almost all its 288 tributaries. Another cause for concern is the disposal of human waste directly into the river. According to a report of the Kerala Pollution Control Board, the level of pollution in the river during the period of Sabarimala pilgrimage is very high. The report indicates that at Pampa, where the pilgrims take the ‘holy dip’ before darshan at the holy shrine, the total coliforms (a rod shaped bacteria) was 190 times above the permissible limit.

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