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About PPS...

The Pampa Parirakshana Samithy (PPS) is a voluntary non-government organisation which has been working relentlessly since 1993 to protect the Holy River Pampa and to save it from degradation and destruction.

The PPS was formally inaugurated at a large public gathering at Kozhencherry on 14th May, 1994, and since then it has been working to study the problems faced by the river and seeking solutions to those problems. We have been interacting continuously with the public from different strata of society and working along with organisations like Centre for Earth Sciences Studies (CESS), Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board.

From the early days, the PPS recognised the importance of educating and informing the people . Towards that end, in 1994, the Samithy  published an informative booklet titled "Environmental Degradation of River Pampa", incorporating a study report on the Pampa which was well received. Seminars were conducted at Kozhencherry, Ranni, Ayroor, Aranmula and Maramon. In addition, interactive meetings were conducted to discuss the Pampa's problems in 13 panchayats lying along the banks of the river. These meeting and seminars were attended by political activists, functionaries from local self governing bodies, government servants including the then District Collector, and members of voluntary organisations, among others. These activities got wide coverage in the news media which served to raise awareness further. On the whole we can say with satisfaction that our campaigns in those early days served to focus the spotlight on the environmental problems of the Pampa and the need to protect and conserve Kerala's rivers.

Early efforts of the PPS to curb the illegal and unscientific removal of sand from the river bed led us to petition the District Collector, Smt. Valsala Kumari to intervene. As a result of the deliberations that followed, removal of sand from the Pampa in the stretch extending from Cherukolpuzha to Kizhavarakadavu was banned in April, 1995 and the ban was strictly enforced. The trade unions agitated strongly against this move and as part of a settlement deal the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Thiruvananthapuram was brought in to examine and study the problems associated with sand gathering from the river. These were path-breaking developments which led ultimately to the regulation of sand removal from all Kerala's rivers by the government. 50 % of revenues generated by sale of river sand by local self governments are to be deposited in a " River Protection Fund ". The Kerala River Bank Protection and Sand Removal Regulation Act, 2001 was passed on 6th Dec. 2001 in the Kerala Legislative Assembly and effected from 27th April, 2002 and became a major milestone in the history of river protection in Kerala. The Pampa Parirakshana Samithy can justifiably claim credit for having played a key role in all these developments. The General Secretary Sri. N.K. Sukumaran Nair has been nominated by the Govt. as the executive member of the District expert committee as per the Act.

Pollution of the Pampa's water is another major problem and it starts right at the top - at Sabarimala. Several petitions to the Travancore Devaswom Board and the State Government went unheeded and so the PPS was forced to approach the Kerala High Court for redressal - Case No. TDB 39/96. The court directed the Pollution Control Board to monitor the pollution levels at Sabarimala - Pampa during the pilgrimage season. The Devaswom Board was directed to remove the toilets emptying directly in to the Pampa, to build sufficient septic tanks and to take action to stop the pollution of the river. A seware treatment plant and two incinerator were put in place in 2002.

 

The PPS studied the problems created by the ever-growing crowds at Sabarimala and ways to manage the situation effectively. It submitted an Action Plan to the High Court and the State Government. As a result of ceaseless representations, the Legislative Assembly Environment Committee handed by prof. A.V. Thamarakshan visited Sabarimala and set up a sub-committee with the District Collector as Chairman to prepare a master plan for Sabarimala. Our General Secretary, Mr. N. K. Sukumaran Nair was the sole non-government member in that sub-committee. The report of the sub-committe was presented in the Legislative Assembly on 6th Aug.1998 and was accepted. However, as a result of strong opposition from the Devaswom Board, the government has not been able to execute the Master Plan. The PPS has approached the High Court praying for the court's intervention to have the master plan executed. Another petition has been filed to have the polluting toilets at Sabarimala - Pampa removed. We hope that early judgements will be passed in these two cases.

The Varattar which is a branch of the Pampa is disappearing. The PPS is supporting and encouraging the efforts of Varattar Pampa Samrakshana Samithy (Edamala) to revive the Varattar. The Manimala and Achenkovil rivers, tributaries of the Pampa, are also facing serious problems and declining rapidly. The PPS has played a useful role in the ongoing campaigns to save those rivers too. The Samithy helped in the formation of the Manimala Samrakshana Samithy and has helped in its effective functioning. Although the Manimala Samrakshana Samithy Secretary Sri. V.N. Gopinath Pillai has to its credit many pro - river protection judgements, the concerned authorities, barring a few, do not care to execute the orders of the court or government orders or the law properly.

The Pampa Parirakshana Samithy took the initiative and brought together activists of the various river protection organisations in Kerala under the umbrella of the All Kerala River Protection Council headquartered at Aluva. The PPS is now an active member of that organisation.

The other important seminars and workshops organised by the PPS are as follows:

1) A workshop titled " The Environmental Degradation of the Pampa and its effects on Kuttanad" was conducted by the Kadapra unit of the PPS in Dec. 1999. Booklets titled - " Holy River With A Lost Soul - Pampa" and "River Protection Laws" were released on the occasion.

2) In April 1999 a one day seminar was conducted at Ranni with the help of the Science, Technology and Environment Committee (STEC) and the State Pollution Control Board.

3) A workshop was held at Thiruvalla on 2nd March, 2002 to examine the possibilities of reducing the use of river sand as an aggregate and to discuss alternatives to river sand. It was attended by eminent engineers, scientists, environmental activists and peoples representatives, among others.

4) Workshop and training camps were conducted at Vadaserikara on May 2003, and at Ayroor on 09-08-03.

The cleaning up of the holy River Pampa has been one of the prime concerns of the PPS. The pollution created by the pilgrimage to Sabarimala, the conventions held on the river bed and by the villages and towns along the river, including the direct discharge of untreated hospital wastes is causing untold damage to the river and seriously affecting the quality of life of the of the people who depend on the Pampa's waters. In 1997 the PPS prepared an action plan for the conservation and protection of the Pampa and presented it to the public for debate and discussion. That plan was favourably received and was widely covered in the news media.

Following a representation initiated by the PPS and submitted by our MP, Shri. Ramesh Chennithala to the Minister for Environment and Forests, Shri. T.R. Balu, the Pampa River was included in the National River Conservation Plan on 15th June, 2001. The PPS conducted workshops at Maramon on 15th July

2001 at Thiruvalla on 02nd March, 2002 and at Ranni on 01st May, 2002, at Maramon on 29-06-03. to discuss the Pampa Action Plan. Sri. T.K.A. Nair formerly M.EF was the chief guest at the workshop on 29-06-03.

The Kerala Government submitted a Rs. 320 crore project report of the Pampa Action Plan to the Central Government on 19th December, 2002. The Central Government which will fund 70 % of the project cost has okayed Rs. 18.45 crores as the cost of the first phase of the project which is the control of pollution at Sabarimala and Pampa. It has sanctioned Rs.12.90 crores as its share (70%) of the project cost.

As a result of the consistent and ceaseless activity of the PPS, we have been able to control the excessive removal of sand from the river and create an awareness about the need for the conservation of rivers among the political leadership, senior administrators and the general public. The Pampa Action Plan, which we are discussing again today, is a rewarding fructification of years of ceaseless campaigning. Our work is far from over, and we can not rest till the river is returned, to the maximum extent possible, to its old glory. Alternatives must be found for the use of river sand in building construction - we wish the Central and State governments would play a more active role in seeking solutions in this area, and a constant vigil must be kept to ensure that the river is not polluted by careless and callous elements.

Since 1995, the PPS has been campaighring against the proposed Pampa-Achancoil, Vaipar Link project formulated by the National water development agency.

 

 

N.K  Sukumaran Nair

 Founder General  Secretary PPS

Read Personal Profile of NKS

 

     

 

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