Chengannur: Water is the basis of life on earth. But what if that water itself is ‘lifeless’.

Something akin to this has happened to the water in Varattar river in Alappuzha, thanks to the large-scale encroachment. Once a prolific river, Varattar is now almost dry and is not suitable for use.

A study conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) showed that the water in the river does not hold any signs of life. That means it does not have the necessary ingredients for life to exist and also does not hold any signs of fresh water.

The findings of CWRDM, which operates under the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment, are literally shocking. They collected water from Varattar and from around 15 water wells in the surrounding areas.

The water had increased amounts of fluoride and nitrate which impedes absorption of sunlight through water. This spells the death of many small living organisms in the water. The ability for reproduction of this beings will also be impaired.

Following are the findings in the report:

pH value (acidity): high

Colour of water Hazen units (HU): More than 5 Units-Not the colour of pure water

TDS or Total Dossolved Solids –High

Coliform bacteria (mostly present in the digestive tracts of animals, including humans, and are found in their wastes): High

Biological Oxygen Demand or BOD: Less than required

Dissolved Oxygen (DO): Less than required

Turbidity: very high   

The Varattar, which flows through the districts of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, is one of the worst affected water sources due the large-scale encroachment on the river bed. The nine-kilometre long river is a natural flush escape of floodwater between the rivers Pampa and Manimala. It has its origin from the Pampa at Puthukkulangara near Chengannur.