Environmental Concerns in Nilgiri

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A research report of The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) has said that the rivers feeding the Bhavani and the Moyar basins in the Nilgiris are affected by domestic and industrial pollutants and pose a threat to both people and animals dependent on their waters.

About the study:

The studies, conducted between 2015 and 2017.

The study analyzed two areas of concern – the Kallar River and the Bhavani River at Mettupalayam, besides Ooty Lake, Pykara and Moyar.

The Pykara Lake empties directly into the Moyar River and indirectly, through underground piping, the Singara River. Both rivers are lifelines for Mukurthi National Park, Mudumalai National Park, Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.

Highlights:

In the Kallar, the study found five million litres per day (MLD) of sewage released from Coonoor town going into the river in the absence of infrastructure to treat the waste. Coliform bacteria in the river were 14 times higher than Central Pollution Control Board norms.

The presence of coliform bacteria indicates the dumping of faecal matter.

The Cordite Factory in Aravankadu, which manufactures nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine for defence, was found to be a source of pollution, discharging its process effluent into a small stream, eventually reaching Kallar River.

While WWF’s research did not detect any contamination in Moyar due to the pollution, the team found heavy eutrophication in Pykara Lake and downstream Glenmorgan reservoir, threatening aquatic life.

Implications:

WWF’s research shows that though there are treatment plants for domestic sewage generated by Ooty town, the quantity far exceeded their capacity, while coliform bacteria levels in Ooty Lake were even higher than in the Kallar River.

Industrial pollution from biotechnology units also appears to have a big impact on the waters that feed the Moyar basin, with one MLD of highly contaminated effluent released into the environment.

What next?     

Farmers association from Masinagudi and Valaikottam, Toda community representatives, TNEB representatives and NGO OSAI raised concerns at the hearing on pollution of Pykara.

The research findings were submitted to the Nilgiris District Collector. The Collector agreed to form a committee that will hold discussions with all stakeholders and resolve environmental issues expeditiously.

About Nilgiri

The Nilgiri (Blue Mountains), form part of the Western Ghats in western Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala  states in Southern India. At least 24 of the Nilgiri Mountains’ peaks are above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), the highest peak being Doddabetta, at 2,637 metres.

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