A total of 99 illegally-operated dyeing and bleaching units have been unearthed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board from Tirupur knitwear cluster and its hinterland in 2013.

TNPCB sources told The Hindu that all these units were caught for discharging untreated effluents into the open as well as into the drains that lead to rivers like Noyyal and other water bodies, all in violation of the Madras High Court order pronounced in 2011.

The court, while ordering the closure of the entire dyeing and bleaching units in Tirupur knitwear cluster for polluting River Noyyal, on a petition filed by a farmers’ forum, had stated that the Common Effluent Treatment Plants and Individual Effluent Treatment Plants should not be permitted to operate unless they achieved zero liquid discharge (ZLD) in the effluent treatment process.

“It is a concern from the farmers’ side that the indiscriminate discharge of effluents still exists. The figures of 99 units are just the tip of iceberg and it could be even more considering that the unearthing of illegally-operated units is happening continuously in the cluster,” pointed out K.C. M.Balasubramaniam, a former agriculture economist from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and a farmer himself.

The industry analysts fear that the continuation of discharge of untreated effluents into the water bodies would not only affect the crops but also dent the image of Tirupur cluster in the eyes of the foreign buyers who are now keener on implementation of ‘green norms’ in the apparel production cycle.

K. Vanchipalayam Durai, a farmer who had been crusading against the pollution caused by industrial effluents in River Noyyal for the past many years, told The Hindu that the owners of the many smaller dyeing units, which were closed following the court order, had now started leasing the premises to people coming from other districts to run the dyeing business.

“This needs to be stopped immediately if strict implementation of ZLD norms had to be ensured. A couple of days ago, I had represented the issue to the district administration,” he added.

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