High Salinity In Periyar River Hits Industry in Kochi

Kochi, December 23: | Updated: Dec 24 2002, 05:30am hrs
The shooting up of the salinity level in the river Periyar, the lifeline for several industries and drinking water sources for citizens of Kochi and its suburbs, has been cause for alarm.

Amidst reports of the salinity level rising to over over 1,000 ppm,Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) has stopped using the Periyar water and instead is now bringing demineralised water from its Ambalamugal division.

Sources admitted that this would prove costly to the PSU giant which is deep down in the red. However, there was no way out for if production was stopped, things would be worse, they added. The salinity level was recorded at 330 ppm at FACT on Monday. The transporting of demineralised water from the Ambalamugal plant has started since Sunday.

In the case of high power-consuming Indal, which has already informed the state government that it would be closing down its smelter unit from December 31 if the tariff was not lowered, the shooting salinity issue was at present not a matter of concern, sources said.

Binani Zinc, which recorded 650 ppm, will be forced to close down by the end of this week if the situation is not checked. Sources said the company was running the machinery at a high risk as anything above 100 pmm would cause damage to the machinery, they added.

Indian Rare Earths (IRE) has decided to close down the plant for annual maintenance for the next 10 days. Management sources admitted that this came as a boon or else they would have to shut down on account of salinity. They hoped that the problem would be solved by the time the company resumes operations or else the shut-down period would be longer.

It is saline water that comes through the taps in Kochi and its suburbs which would pose serious health hazards, say citzens of Kochi.

Meanwhile, the state government had decided to build two regulator-cum-bridges on the river to prevent the flow of saline water into the river.

This would entail an expenditure of Rs 30 crore and would be part of the industrial water supply scheme which has come in for flak. There is the charge that drawing water for an already drying river would only pose more problems. The delay in building temporary bunds to check the saline water flow upstream has also caused problems in farm lands.