Reservoir turning into waste dump

Last week’s monsoon rains have not only caused displacement and heavy damage to property in different parts of the district, but also pushed tonnes of plastic waste into the Idukki hydel reservoir.

The rising waters have pushed the plastic waste into the crevices of the small hills in the catchment area besides filling the surface of the reservoir. Ayyappancoil, where the Periyar merges with the reservoir, now bears a heavy load of plastic waste. So do the areas of the reservoir such as Vellilamkandam, Upputhara and the low-lying areas inside the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Threat to wildlife

George Mathirapally, a resident of Ayyappancoil told
The Hindu
that every year tonnes of plastic waste gets pushed into the embankments of the reservoir from the upper reaches.

Once the water level subsides, the winds would push a portion of it into the reservoir. This happens usually by December/January. Presence of plastic in such huge quantity poses a threat to the wildlife inside the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary as the dam water is encircled by the forest in the area.

Waste reaching the reservoir include those thrown into the Periyar and that which accumulates on its banks from Vallakadavu to Upputhara.

As things stand, there is no mechanism now to collect the plastic waste. Since the reservoir is spread over a wide area, the plastic waste also gets spread widely. This time the waste dumped in the catchment areas is of a higher volume as the water level in the Periyar and other tributaries have risen to unexpected levels inundating the river banks, said a KSEB official.

He pointed out that once the water level falls, the waste would move closer to the arch dam and lie strewn on the grasslands of the wildlife sanctuary.

This time around, the heavy water flow had resulted in waste from the courtyards of houses too getting washed into the reservoir.

It would be an enormous task to collect the waste as the water closer to the arch dam spreads over to the wildlife sanctuary, a Forest Department official said.

No system in place

The waste dumped downstream of the arch dam close to the Cheruthoni town is now getting pushed into the Lower Periyar dam. There is no local level system for collecting plastic wastes in the towns close to the Periyar.

At Vandiperiyar town, all plastic waste is dumped on the river bank, raising the distant possibility of the waste moving into the Cheruthoni dam and Kulamavu dam of the Idukki reservoir as the natural flow of water is into the arch dam. At the present rate, the reservoir area in the forest close to the arch dam would soon turn into a waste dump, said the Forest official.

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