|By Akram Mohammed [ Published Date: April 15, 2012 ]|
In two research articles by scientists at National Institute of Oceanography published in 2006 and 2008 respectively, researchers have detected an increase in contamination level of the sea waters.
In an article published on 'Water Research', a journal of the International Water Association (IWA) in 2006, titled 'Biological indicators in relation to coastal pollution along Karnataka coast, India', it said that the concentration of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) remained exceptionally high. A maximum of 1523 micrograms of PHC per litre of sea water was discovered at Kulai, which was ten times more than at Padubidri (144 microgram per litre). Padubidri was selected as a pollution free area to compare the data observed at Kulai.
The article also pointed out that Kulai was one among the 26 sites along Indian coasts marked under the Government of India surveillance programme "Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS)" as hot spots which are either ecologically sensitive or severely affected by pollution.
In its conclusion, the article said that there was 'more than a twenty fold increase in dissolved petroleum hydrocarbons at Kulai, with a visible sheen of oil on water surface, suggests that petroleum inputs are derived from external source such as petrochemical industry.' Research was done by Xivanand N Verlecar, Somashekar R Desai, Anupam Sarkar and S G Dalal at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. The abstract of the research article is available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16934850?dopt=Abstract.
In another research article published on 'Environmental Research' in 2008, a multidisciplinary journal of environmental sciences, ecology and public health, similar concerns of environmental degradation was raised. It discovered high ammonia content in sea water at Surathkal, high nitrite and nitrate compounds in near shore waters off Kulai and high nitrite and ammonia in the harbour area.
'Similiarly, high petroleum hydrocarbon values were observed near the harbour, while phenols remained high in the near-shore waters of Kulai and Surathkal. Significantly high concentrations of Cadmium and Mercury with respect to earlier studies were observed off Kulai and harbour regions, respectively.', it stated.
The article acknowledged that during 1997-98 itself, studies carried out by NIO revealed 'significant pollution' of the coastal waters off Kulai, 'due to industrialization.' It also noted that 'All the available information indicate anthropogenic activity as a source.'
Interestingly, the authors of the research study P V Shirodkar, A Mesquita, U K Pradhan, X N Verelkar, M T Babu and P Vethamony conclude that, 'the coastal region from Mangalore harbour to Surathkal is a biologically active zone.' Link here:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19171328?dopt=Abstract
But, president of Karavali Saampradaayika Naada Dhoni Meenugaara Sangha says that fish population of the region has reduced drastically in the last fifteen years. He says that there were 51 teams involved in Kairamponi (shore based fishing) fishing a few years ago, but due to decrease in fish numbers along the coasts of Mangalore, there was only one team involved in the traditional practice today.
He recalls a judgement by Lok Adalat in 2011, which had questioned the DC on why shore fishing was diminishing in Dakshina Kannada. DC, he said had transferred the matter to Fisheries department. But, Fisheries department had not conducted any survey to explain the exponential decrease in fish catch of the region.
With the presence of traces of metals such as Cadmium, Mercury and Lead in sea waters, it is alleged that pollution has caused the decrease in fish catch and has thereby affected traditional fisherman. It must be noted that the research articles provided statistics of the year 2006. Six years later, the amount of chemicals and other harmful compounds will have only increased due to an increase in population of Mangalore and also due to an increase in industries.
The coasts of our city appear to be dying due to poisoning. A study on the effluents discharged by industries lining the coasts of Mangalore and the condition of water in our coasts require immediate scrutiny.