The government's move to carry out a study of soil alongside River Noyyal, which was affected by indiscriminate discharge of effluents by a section of industrialists, for toxicity levels and to suggest remedial measures is evoking mixed response among farmers and environmentalists.

Minister for Industries C. Shanmugavelu told The Hindu that following the initiatives of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, it was planned to constitute a team of professors from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), to test soil on the banks of River Noyyal in Tirupur, Erode, Coimbatore and Karur districts, which were affected by the industrial effluents.

“The study will help us give financial compensation to the farmers according to the level of damages and more importantly, the statistics would help us analyse which all crops could be raised in the present soil condition,” he said. The Minister hinted that the study would be completed in a time-bound manner, mostly probably over a span of two months from its commencement.

“To help expedite the field study, the Collectors of the respective districts will be asked to coordinate the operations and research students will be deputed to assist the professors,” Mr. Shanmugavelu said. The Minister also said that steps would be taken to expedite the disbursal of relief which was already been allocated to the affected farmers.

K.C.M. Balasubramaniam, a retired TNAU professor and a farmer, questioned the very purpose of a fresh study.

“Why another study is needed when the authorities concerned had already conducted analysis many years ago and allocated relief, which itself is yet to reach the farmers in full,” he pointed out.

P. Sankaranarayan, an environmentalist and hailing from an agrarian family, welcomed the move to carry out study though he termed it as a ‘belated step.'

However, he wanted to know who would be bearing the expenses for the functioning of the committee.