Alappuzha, Feb 3 (UNI) With the breadth of Vembanadu backwaters shrinking from 36,329 hectares four decades ago to about 13,224 hectares now, environmentalists have rung an alarm bell on the fate of the renowned water body.
At a seminar held here yesterday to mark the 'World Water Day', the environmentalists pointed out that the once flourishing flora and fauna on the banks of the water body were now dwindling in numbers.
Known as one of the natural habitats in the country, the Vembanadu had once been a rendezvous point for over 200 varieties of birds including migratory.
The water body was once home to nearly 75 types of aqua plants, some rare, and over 100 fish species.
They said the change in the eco-system, resulting from unscrupulous industrialisation, had damaged the eco-structure of the backwaters. Waste and excreta dumped from houseboats had increased the presence of coliform bacteria in the water.
A study by Kerala Pollution Control Board pointed out that the average presence of the bacteria in a litre of water was over 100,000.
The situation was worsening with Pampa, Achankovil, Manimala and Meenachil rivers carrying additional waste into the Vembanadu.
About 700 tonne of waste was estimated to have been dumped in the Vembanadu from Cochin Corporation alone.
The pollution level had exceeded due to pesticide spraying in rice fields in Kuttanad area, dumping of pith by ginning mills and spillage of kerosene and diesel from houseboats.
They pointed out that the sand and shell dredging had damaged the bottom structure of the backwater.
The seminar was jointly organised by Vembanadu Conservation Forum, Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi, Pampa Parirakshana Samithi and Kerala State Pollution Control Board.
UNI XR ARC AM AS1716