JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:05/02/2014

Latest News(Archive)

Latest News

Erumeli stranded, with piles of garbage

GEORGE JACOB, The Hindu, 04 February 2014



Pilgrims have left, and so has government machinery, leaving the village to fend for itself


KOTTAYAM: The cacophony of visiting tourists is gone; the streets no more reverberate with pilgrims’ chants; the temporary shops that had come up on roadsides during the pilgrim season remain empty. After two months of hectic activity, Erumeli, the prime base station for Sabarimala pilgrims, is back to its everyday existence of a high range village.


For two months a year, this quiet village throbs with life round the clock with tens of thousands passing through its streets — boosting business, but leaving behind tonnes of garbage.


Authorities come to the aid of the gram panchayat to handle the extraordinary situation by deploying additional facilities at the community health centre, putting in place a ‘vishudhi sena’ to take care of sanitation, and deploying police and excise personnel to look into law and order problems. However, by January 20, when the last of the pilgrims leave the village, the government machinery too abandons it, leaving the hamlet to fend for itself.


“The first warning sign that indicates the end of the pilgrim season is the arrival of armies of mosquitoes,” said Aniyan Erumlei, Ayyappa Seva Sanghom president. The town area, comprising the two Ayyappa temples and the Nainar mosque, boasts of hundreds of toilets, constructed by various agencies and private individuals in view of the influx of the large number of pilgrims.


Almost all of these toilets open into the main waterway, Erumeli Thode, which flows into the Manimala river. “During the 10 month period, these latrines act as mosquito breeding centres. People who live near the town are now under the threat of diseases,” he said.


Most common diseases that affected the villagers were diarrhoea-related ones, said Shibu Jayaraj of the community health centre. However, chlorination is the only precautionary measure taken. According to him, the Health Department takes up chlorination round the year. “During the pilgrim season, we shift to super chlorination,” he said.


Leader of the opposition in the gram panchayat, T.P. Thommy, said seven to eight tonnes of garbage was being generated a day during the season against the less than two tonnes a day rest of the year.


However, no scientific measures have been taken to find a lasting solution to the problem, most of them peculiar to the grama panchayat. More than a decade ago, a report was submitted by the then Assembly sub-committee on environment. “Nothing was heard about it ever since. Unless we have a perspective master plan, the mess will continue,” he said.


According to Zacharia Dominic, the president of the local cooperative bank, the situation this year was much better.


The panchayat has entered into an agreement with an agency in Alappuzha for waste management.


The panchayat will collect the waste and dump it at the yard near the town from where the biodegradable waste will be used for generation of biogas.


Plastic and other non-degradable waste materials will be removed by the agency.