A research study conducted by Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) revealed the presence of heavy loads of macroplastic litters in the bottom sediments of Vembanad lake and coastal belts of Kochi. The study conducted under the banner of ‘Swachata hi Seva’ programme of the central government was released to the public by A Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor of KUFOS.
The report suggests the presence of 4276 tons of plastic waste in the bottom sediments which works out to 55.9 tons per square km area, in the 76.5 square km stretch of Alappuzha – Thannermukkom sector of Vembanad.
Another alarming finding of the study is the sharp depth shrinkage of the lake from 8 to 9 meters in the 1930s to the present 1.6 to 4.5 meters, said Dr.Ramachandran.
“The decreasing trend in the lake’s depth profile is largely from siltation and unless urgent interventions are made to reverse the trend, the southern part of the lake is likely to disappear in one or two decades,” he added.
The curbs between Vembanad lake and sea, block the smooth flow of Periyar. The major blockades are silt deposited for the construction of 15 bridges in Vembanad lake during last 20 years in Kochi-Vypen sector. Taking this into consideration, KUFOS has joined hands with Centre for Aquatic Resource Management and Conservation to study the matter in detail.
“We are planning long-term clean-up campaigns of Cochin waters through public participation. We also have decided to keep bins along the Marine Drive pathway in collaboration with some corporate sector who might be willing to be a part of the programme. Another plan is to place hoardings depicting the danger associated with casual disposal of plastic items at each 500 m distance of the Marine Drive walkway,” Dr Ramachandran said.
Vembanad lake is a Ramsar site, which means it is a wetland ecosystem designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.