Camping and other activities in the forest and by the banks of the river.
Photo: R Ganesan
Recently there was reference in a TV channel of how Tamiraparani water adds to the taste and flavour of the local cuisine. Who in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin district would dispute the fact that Tamiraparani is their lifeline. A unique culture and lifestyle has evolved around this river. In recent times, this riverscape is fast changing. For instance, what used to be a quaint little festival of Aadi Amavasai in the Sori Muthaiyanar temple which is located on the banks of Tamiraparani almost near the origin is growing in dimension and causing concern to the river. The river gets polluted due to the religious rituals and human use and abuse. Our preliminary findings during the festival suggest that the river water gets polluted through open defecation, slaughtering of animals on the banks of the river, cooking, washing clothes and bathing. We tested the quality of river water at various points: downstream from the temple, one close to it and another upstream where the water is released from the dam. Our results showed very high concentration of coliform and chlorine near the pollution-source and also downstream of the source. The kanis who use this water downstream complain of water borne diseases after the festival, and hence do not use river water during and for few months after the festival. The issue here is that it not only impacts a few households near the source but might also affect millions of people who depend on these waters downstream. We cannot discount the pollution that accrues further downstream from industrial pollution and sewage release. There are lessons from Ganga and Yamuna experience. Tamraparani still has a bright future, if we act now.