Thursday, September 13, 2007

What Next Now Kerala Government?

The Malayala Manorama newspaper in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science Environmental Centre has published a report on the water quality of Kerala yesterday. The major finding of the study was
Coliform bacteria were found in 93% of river samples, 96% of well samples and 99% of tap water samples.
Am I surprised at these results? Not even a bit of surprise when I read these findings, why? Having studied and worked in this area for 6 years now I was expecting such a result. In Save Kerala Blog I had written about a year ago, “Think Before You Drink” about the possible contamination of drinking water in Kerala.

So what is this Coliform Bacteria? What is its source? How is it harmful? What is the permissible limit in water?

Coliform bacteria are not health hazard as such. They are a good indicator of microbial pollution in water. The Coliform count increases in water when water comes in contact with human and animal fecal waste. The World Health Organization (WHO) and US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) have set a maximum contaminant level of 0% for the presence of fecal coliforms in water. More the presence of Coliform bacteria, more the likelihood of presence of deadly microorganisms like Cryptospordium and Giardia Camblia in the drinking water. If we drink/swim in water with these microorganisms the potential health effects – diarrhea, vomiting, cramps etc. Now you know why so many people died/infected during the last rainy season. You don’t have to go beyond this report to understand why many infant kids died in a Trivandrum hospital few months ago.

One of the possible solutions suggested by some to solve this issue is to add more chlorine to water. But it may cause more harm than good. The presence of coliforms suggests that water is not properly treated. If the dissolved organic carbon present in these waters is high and we add more chlorine to water it may produce carcinogenic compounds called disinfection by-products. The most viable short term solution is boiling the drinking water.

I am very much interested in finding out what Kerala Government does next. This is the government that banned Coke/Pepsi from Kerala based on an unscientific result published by an NGO. The experts have argued that if the same NGO sampled the water samples in and around the country that common people are using they could have found more deadly impurities. Now a study by a reputed institution in India has found that 99% of the tap water supplied by Kerala Government is polluted or has bacteria level greater than one mandated by WHO. Now there is a good chance that since the findings are against the state government they will question the intention of Malayala Manorama or other people involved rather than trying to solve the real issue at hand. Based on this study, if a foreign government advises its citizens visiting Kerala, not to drink water provided by Kerala government they cannot be blamed. It makes more sense than the senseless act of Kerala government in banning coke/pepsi based on unscientific study.

Now what are the possible solutions to solve this issue? First the Kerala government as well as people should understand that because of over exploitation of Mother Nature almost all our natural sources of water are polluted. Drinking water from tap, river or well is not safe to drink any more. It needs to be properly treated before drinking. The next important thing they should understand is that everywhere water is unique and needs different treatment techniques. The water qualities of River Kalpathi in Palakkad will be different from water qualities of River Karamana in Trivandrum and they have to be treated using different water treatment techniques than the conventional treatment techniques we employ.

One of the feasible solutions for treating these Coliform contaminations is using ozone and UV radiation (again depending on water quality parameters). But the cost associated with this is very high and these technologies are high power consuming. The other immediate step we need to take is to “treat” the aging water distribution system. Most of the pipe lines in our state were installed decades ago and they have undergone just patch work.

Now the hard part of it – developing new treatment facilities, putting new distribution system requires a lot of money. It is beyond the capacity of the state government to provide the money for it. It is where I believe the private sector has a major role to play if allowed by the private sector allergic Kerala government.

If we don’t take steps in a war footing this issue is going to worsen and affect each and every one living in Kerala. I wish all Malayalis will keep there politics aside and stand united in solving this issue. Solving this issue can be the best gift one can give to their future generation.

Kerala Government - BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!
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Blogger Vijay Ramamurthi said...

oh comments???

ill fill in for the rest of the gang...
"oh there goes Brijesh, again,,criticizing Kerala and India again..why do u do this Brijesh, why dont u write something good, like say we get clean water in the form of aquafina, or mother nature is shining in Kerala, after all its Gods own country, if the water is in a bad shape, then there must be a Gods reason!!"

ok so this is what u shud write, we have better water than..Orissa where ppl are dying of Cholera!!

September 13, 2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger silverine said...

Quite an eye opener of a post!!

September 13, 2007 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read the detailed report avaiable in manorama site? Tap water contamination is not the same in all regions. In trivandrum as expected is less than others.

September 13, 2007 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nair, I think it is really good thought. And you tried your best to convince kerala government and some private companies to open water treatment plants so that you can get job in India.

But i dont agree criticizing the ban of coke/pepsi because of the higher contamination level. if the water is polluted, i beleive that companies have to treat it properly before using it in making of soft drinks. you cant say pepsi/coke is in poor quality because water quality is poor. I dont think that is fair.

September 13, 2007 7:33 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

That was really good. Some people can never digest hard facts.

This is really a scary situation.

Anon @ 10.16 PM

Thanks for sharing those detailed links with us.

Anon @ 11.33 AM

If I need a job I can manage one with the educational qualifications I have. I don’t need any private companies to open water treatment plant to get a job

Regarding banning Pepsi and Coke, the NGO was comparing the impurities in Coke/Pepsi to a non existent standards. Also we must remember one thing- water that comes in our tap is an essential thing for humans to survive while drinking Coke/Pepsi is a choice an individual makes. I mentioned that ban just to see how the Kerala government react to this.

September 13, 2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger चन्द्रशेखरन नायर said...

വീടുകളില്‍നിന്നും മറ്റുമുള്ള മനുഷ്യ വിസര്‍ജ്യവും മറ്റും ജലാശയങ്ങളില്‍ എത്തിയത്‌ കോളിഫാം ബാക്ടീരിയ കൂടുവാന്‍ ഒരു കാരണമല്ലെ? ജൈവ കൃഷിയും, മൌഷ്യ വിസര്‍ജ്യവും ജൈവ വളമാക്കി മാറ്റിയാല്‍ ഒരു പരിധിവരെ മണ്ണില്‍ മണ്ണിരകളെ സംരക്ഷിച്ച്‌ ജലം ശുദ്ധീകരിക്കാന്‍ കഴിയില്ലെ? മനുഷ്യ നിര്‍മിതമായ ഈ അവസ്ഥയ്ക്ക്‌ പരിഹാരവും അവരില്‍ നിന്നല്ലെ ഉണ്ടാകേണ്ടത്‌? കുടിവെള്ളം മാത്രമായി ശുദ്ധീകരിച്ചതുകൊണ്ട്‌ ആരോഗ്യം സംരക്ഷിക്കപ്പെടുമോ? കുടിക്കുവാന്‍ അനുയോജ്യമായ വെള്ളം പലകിണറുകളിലും ലഭ്യമായത്‌ കണ്ടെത്തി ആദ്യം അവ സംരക്ഷിക്കുവാനുള്ള നടപടികളല്ലെ അത്യാവശ്യം വേണ്ടത്‌?

September 14, 2007 2:39 AM  
Blogger bindhu said...

I strongly agree with the statement of Anonymous “But I dont agree criticizing the ban of coke/pepsi because of the higher contamination level. if the water is polluted, i beleive that companies have to treat it properly before using it in making of soft drinks. you cant say pepsi/coke is in poor quality because water quality is poor. I dont think that is fair.”

I personally feel that half of contamination problem can be solved by putting new distribution system. As you said most of the pipe lines in our state were installed decades ago. In some locations the sewerage lines and water lines are going through the same ducts. Ultimately it may create contamination atleast in some locality due leakage of the pipes.

As you have done your PhD in environmental science you can give a better insight to this issue.Rather than going into highly sophisticated high cost treament system you can suggest some technology which can be adopted and readily implimented in a developing country like india. You can also suggest some effective fund raising mechanism to tackle this issue. If it is worth and if you can convince the same, I don’t feel there will be any problem for implementing this technique irrespective of the govt attitude.

Problems will be always there. So rather than critizicing the system, it is always betters to more higlight the issues, precautions and solutions.

Thanks for the blog


September 14, 2007 6:07 AM  
Blogger rathi said...

Thank you so much for the informative thought.Let us optimistically expect that other States will also conduct tests on the quality of available water resources.The only solution presently would be boiling water. Govt. will surely come up with some proposals. The bestway of prevention of water borne problems would be organising Awareness campaigns by educated groups . Also the water purification plants should be given subsidies and tax holidays for supplying clean water at affordable prices to the common man.Of course one hopes that God will ward off any vested interest in this issue in His own land.
Good . Keep writing.

September 16, 2007 9:48 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Kerala Farmer,
Thought provoking questions. If every one in Kerala starts thinking like you then there won’t be such an issue at all.

Welcome to my blog. Yes you are right. A lot of these issues can be solved by changing the aging distribution system. But if the issue has to be completely solved then people have to start practicing more hygienic practices.

With ever increasing demand of water it is necessary to use the new technologies to treat water.

Rathi aunty,
If other governments does the tests I don’t think result will be any better.

September 17, 2007 8:51 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Time to open a Wilson Engineers field office...

September 19, 2007 6:55 AM  
Blogger Agn! Sharman said...

General Information on Kerala (A South-Western State in India)

Discuss Malayalam, Malayalees & Kerala

January 01, 2008 10:51 AM  
Blogger sojan said...

you can't don anthing in kerala. first govrnment should have an aim or target. In kerala, the target is of filling own pockets within the time span.

the person who all have posted the replies in these topics please ask yourself or ur dad or mom that how much is your annual income in ration card or some other legal documents.

if you are not corrupted then only ypu have the right to talk anthing...even if its abt water,air, money, or any other.

January 08, 2008 11:29 AM  

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