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Pampa Action Plan

A project to make river Pampa clean


Holy River Pampa is the life line of Central Travancore and is known as `Dhakshina Ganga'. Consequent to the River Pampa being included in the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has approved the first phase of the Pampa Action Plan (PAP) estimated to cost Rs. 18.45 crores and set a part Rs. 12.9 crores as its shares (70%). The first phase of the PAP consists of 11 pollution abatement schemes to be carried out at Sabarimala and Pampa over 4 years beginning in the financial year 2003 - 2004. The National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) is the body under the (MoEF) which administrate the National River Conservation Plan. The Govt.of Kerala had issued an order on November 2003 for implementing the first phase of Pampa Action Plan and appointed the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) as in Nodal Agency to implement the PAP. of the 11 schemes under the first phase 7 are to be executed by the travancore Devasam Board (TDB) and 4 by the Department of Irrigation. as its stands, awareness programmes are to be conducted by the KWA. On 15th December 2004 the Kerala State Cabinet has decided to set up a separate agency which may be called the Pampa River Development Authority to co-ordinate the Pampa Action Plan.

River Pampa

The River Pampa is the third longest among Kerala's 44 Rivers and it spreads its self arterial network like in Kuttanad, Kerala's rice-bowl. Around 30 lakh people in the districts of Allappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Idukki are depend on this river for their daily use. The most famous Christian Convention in Asia, the Maramon Convention and the biggest Hindu Convention in Kerala, the Cherukolppuzha Hindumatha Parishath are held on the sandbeds of the River Pampa. The historic and famous Aranmula Uthrittarhi Vallamkali, the snake boat festival, unique to Kerala is also held on the River Pampa, the river that greatly influences the lives of people in the economic social and spiritual spears, is now steadily dying.

Originating in the western ghats at a hight of 1677 metre at Sabari hills, Pampa flows along a distance of 179 Kms. through the districts Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, and joints the Vembanad lake. The river is a conglomerate of various streams, riverlets and other water channels. The Kakkiyar and Njunagar join the river Pampa at Thriveni, the spot that is considered particularly Holy by Sabarimala pilgrims. The Puthuseri, Azhutha and Panamkuduntha join further downstream. The Kakkattar joins the Pampa at Perunad and the Pampa - Kallar joins the main river at Vadasserikkara. The Manimala river joins the pampa at Valanjavattom near Thiruvalla and the Achankovil joins at Veeyapuram near Harippad.

The river Pampa holds a Holy Status because of its historic relation with the Holy shrine of `lord Ayyappa'. The Sabaimala Temple has over the years grow into a major pilgrimage destination in India. The contamination during the pilgrimage season in the River Pampa is alamingly high and it is unfit even for bathing as per the CPC Boards standard. The river water is further being contaminated with waste materials and sewvage flown in from Towns, Markets, Hospitals, Rubber factories and sloughter houses etc. In this context the Pampa Parirakhsana Samithi (PPS) requested the MoEF to take actions to include the River Pampa in the NRCP so as to abate pollution in the river waters.

National River Conservation Plan (NRCP)

The Holy River Pampa is the only river from Kerala being included in the NRCP. The river action plans were taken up by the NRCD functions under the MoEF based on surveys conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which identified 31 grossly polluted streches of major rivers in the country. The objectives of the river action plan is the improve the water quality of major rivers which are the major fresh water sources in the country through the implementation of various pollution abatement schemes. The important works being taken up under NRCP include 1) interception and diversion of works to capture the raw sewage flowing into the river through open drains and divert them for treatment, 2) sewage treatment plants (STP) for treating the diverted sewage 3) Low cost sanitation works to prevent open defecution on river banks and 4) River front development works such as improvement of bathing ghats etc.

The first river action plan under the NRCP was the Ganga Action Plan phase 1. Basis of lessons learned and experience gained from Ganga Action Plan, 31 polluted major rivers in 18 states at a cost of Rs.46.88 billion has been taken for implementation under the NRCP, for mitigate pollution level in river waters, since its inception.

The river action plan are monitored by an apex body called National River Conservation Authority (NRCA) which is chaired by the Hon. Prime Minister. The Union Ministers of concerned Ministries, Chief Ministers and Members of Parlament of the participating States are its members. The NRCA in its 10th meeting held on 13-3-01, it was decided that the project of River Action Plan in future will be formulated in an integrated and holistic manner by addressing not only the issue of river pollution, but that of the components like internal sewage, lowcost sanitation, solidwaste disposal etc. Also with the active people's involvement. All future works will be on cost sharing bases of 70: 30 between centre and states respectively. And the share of public shall be a minimum of 10% of the total cost. As part of the NRCP the Govt.of India has now proposed to put more responsibility on the States, including rasing of funds for the implementation of river action plans.

Pampa Action Plan

The high level of pollution in the Holy River Pampa during the annual Sabarimala pilgrim season is posing a serious health hazard to lakhs of pilgrims as well as about 30 lakhs of people living in the downstream reaches of Pampa River Basin. The studies conducted by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) the coliform bacteria count in the Pampa River were found to be in order of three lakhs /100ml. where as maximum permissible limit of coliform count is 500 mpn per 100 ml of water.

N.K Sukumaran Nair, General Secretary of the Pampa Parirakhana Samithi a voluntary Environmental Organisation engaged in the preservation of the Holy River Pampa and its environs represented on 23rd March 2001 through Sri. Ramesh Chennithala then M.P., to Sri. T.R. Balu, former Minister for Environment and forest, to include the River Pampa in the National River Conservation Plan and to implement Pampa Action Plan. The Hon. Minister agreed to include the River Pampa in the NRCP as represented by Sri. Ramesh Chennithala then M.P. during a high level conference convened by the Minister at Thiruvananthapuram on 15-6-01, since the River has been found to be polluted mostly on account of high bactietial levels. The KSPCB was entrusted to prepare the feasibility report. The report submitted by the KSPCB to the MoEF included several proposals to abate pollution of River Pampa, which includes saniation facilities such as providing latrine and bathroom complexes etc. at Sabarimala, Pampa and enroute townships, laying sewer lines, and establishing sewage treatment plants, proper scientific solid waste management systems to prevent the solid waste reaching to river water. It also includes establishing modern slaughter houses, rural saniation in villages and forest enrich programmes. The pollution abatement programmes were proposed from Sabarimala to Thakazhi in Kuttanad. After the preliminary approval of the MoEF, the Govt.of Kerala has constituted an expert committee comprising senior engineers from the concerned department to prepare the detailed project report. The Govt.of Kerala have submitted the Detailed Project Report amounting to Rs. 319.7 crores prepared by an expert committee appointed by the State Government, to the MoEF and to the planning commission, by a high level Ministerial Delegation headed by Sri. A.K. Antony then Chief Minister on 19.12.2002. The MoEF has accorded administrative sanction for the first phase estimated to rupees 18.45 lakhs during May 2003.

The implementation of the project on a warfooting is inevitable as millions of pilgrims from all over the country visit Sabarimala every year. congregation of very large number of people in a limited area within the forest for a limited period exerts enormous pressure on the environment. If this project is implemented in toto, it would improve the water quality of Pampa River spread over the districts Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. It would also facilitate to mitigate pollution level of water resources in Kuttanad where the majority of the inhabitants depend mainly on the Pampa for their potable water.

N.R.C.D. Guide Lines (from the NRCD Website)


All the action plans are monitored at both the state as well as Central levels through a multi-tier monitoring mechanism. This includes:


State Level


(i) The progress monitoring by a team of field engineers on day to day basis.

(ii) Monthly review of progress at the Chief Executive level of the nodal implementing agency.

(i) Citizen's Monitoring Committee in each town to review the progress and provide inputs for public participation and involvement.

(ii) Periodical review by the Divisional Project Monitoring Cells.

(iii) Periodical review of progress by a State Steering Committee chaired by the concerned Chief Secretaries.

(iv) Periodical review by a High Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister.


Central Level


(i) Regular review by NRCD officials including frequent site visits. Regular review by NRCD Project Director.

(ii) Quarterly review of progress by a Steering Committee headed by Secretary of the Ministry. Chief Secretaries of the concerned States and experts in the Public Health Engineering and other related areas are the members of this Committee.

(iii) Quarterly review of progress of scientific and technical aspects of the programme as well as the impact of works on the river water quality by a Monitoring Committee headed by Member Environment, Planning Commission.

(iv) Quarterly review by a Standing Committee headed by the Union Minister of Environment & Forests.

(v) Annual review of progress by the National River Conservation Authority headed by Prime Minister. The concerned Chief Ministers, among others, are the members of this Committee.


Approval Procedure For Ganga Action Plan

Approval of river Action Plans is accorded by Government on the basis of pre-feasibility report estimates prepared by the State Governments. After the scheme is approved, detailed project reports (DPR) with firmed-up cost estimates for various sub-components are prepared by the State Governments. These DPRs are appraised and approved by the Ministry following which, administrative approval and expenditure sanctions are issued. On the basis of these sanctions, the State Governments / implementing agencies award contracts according to their own policy and rules. Progress of implementation is monitored by both the State implementing agencies and the Ministry.


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