ALAPPUZHA: The increasing houseboat tourism has polluted Vembanad lake to the brim. This was clear from the five quintals of plastic waste collected by a team of 30 fishermen during the 41-day clean-up campaign organised in the lake spread over Thanneermukkom, Aryad, Mannanchery and Muhamma panchayats. The waste from over 1,500 houseboats and other motorised tourist boats in the lake has damaged the fish wealth and the livelihood of some 5,000 inland fishermen and clam collectors.
The clean-up drive was initiated by the Vembanad Lake Protection Forums in collaboration with the Community Environmental Resource Centre (CERC) of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation. It will officially end onFebruary 2. The plastic bottles collected would be brought to the recycling centres and the rest would be used for road construction. Mr K. M Poovu, secretary of Vembanad Lake Protection Forums, said the river was getting polluted following encroachments over the years.
Small fishes and clams are the most affected by the plastic materials as plastic bags and sacks cover the water beds hindering oxidation to the water, he said. "The fishermen collected the plastic waste on the sidelines of their fishing work. The plastics are currently dumped in different parts of the four panchayats. These will be brought to one place on February 2. The salinity in the river has gone up resulting in the degradation of river plants," he said.
Former district collector N. Padmakumar had announced a major clean-up drive in Vembanad lake in December 2014 seeking reports from various departments, including fisheries, port, irrigation and agriculture. But the efforts reached nowhere. Mr T.D. Jojo, project coordinator, ATREE, said the drive should be made a daily practice. "The deposit of plastic in the river is increasing and the district administration has to take effective steps to contain river pollution," he said.