100 more waiting to be closed, for pollution
In an effort to check the mushrooming of dyeing units polluting the groundwater table in and around Kancheepuram, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has closed 10 dyeing units in the temple town. Over a hundred more are waiting to be shut.
The TNPCB that started cracking the whip by demolishing illegal dyeing units in western districts by razing over 100 of them in the past few months has turned the focus on dyeing units, both cotton and silk, in Kancheepuram, discharging effluents into the Vegavathi and Palar rivers.
M.S. Kumar, a leader of a welfare association in Kancheepuram district, has obtained information through RTI from the TNPCB that there were 122 dyeing units, 68 cotton and 74 silk units, causing water pollution in the town. “In reply to an RTI query, the TNPCB has admitted that 148 acres of farmland in Nathampettai area has been affected,” Mr. Kumar said.
Apart from the dyeing units of traditional silk weavers, the new yarn units have added to the pollution load.
TNPCB officials say there is no difference in the type of chemicals used in Tirupur, Erode or Kancheepuram. Caustic soda, soda ash and acetic acid are used and it is the same type of process. For every kg of cotton, 60 litres of effluents are discharged.
What is intriguing is that the effluents are directly discharged into the municipal drains illegally by almost all units. Those in Pillayarpalayam, Chinna Kancheepuram and Ammankara Theru discharge through sewerage pipes to Nathampet tank.
Instead of treating them at the oxidation pond, the municipality has pipelines to route the effluents to the tank, the source of farmers in the area, officials say.
According to Mr. Kumar, the units in Ayyampet have a common effluent treatment plant which becomes dysfunctional often and many units have slowly started shifting base to the town and discharge freely into the drains.
While the proposed silk park would enable the silk units to shift in a few years time, the TNPCB is likely to continue the crackdown on yarn dyeing units, sources say.
“The TNPCB has cut power to ten units now. It has promised to close down the dyeing units polluting the ground water table in a phased manner,” Mr. Kumar says.