Many industrial estates in the city are setting up sewage and effluent treatment plants in an effort to promote eco-friendly practices and reduce burden on civic agencies.

The industrial estate in Ambattur is the forerunner among the estates with two sewage treatment plants set up in north and south phase. The projects were implemented by the Chennai Auto Ancillary Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Company (CAAIIUC), a special purpose vehicle promoted by the Central and State governments and stakeholders to improve infrastructure at the estates in Thirumudivakkam, Thirumazhisai and Ambattur.

The sewage treatment plants of a total capacity of 3.5 million litres a day (mld) are being operated for over six months now. The waste water generated by over 1,500 industrial units, which are a mix of chemical, automobile components and heavy engineering products manufacturing units, are being linked to the facilities.

Pointing out that the estate has undergone a major revamp in the last few years, CAAIIUC director K.Sai Sathyakumar said, “We are attempting to use the treated waste water for gardening and non-potable purposes. A small volume of the treated sewage is let into the Cooum. The sewage generated by five areas in the estate, including Pattaravakkam, is also treated at the plant.”

As the next step towards turning environment friendly, the CAAIIUC is all set to establish a one mld effluent treatment plant. At present, some of the industries discharge their effluent into ground or waterways and this often goes unnoticed.

The company's chairman, Dilip Kumbhat, said the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation has allotted one-acre land in the estate for the purpose. Construction of the facility would start in a month. “We are also exploring the possibility of treating hydrochloric acid to be reused by the manufacturers,” he said.

Once the two facilities to treat and reuse water soluble coolant come up, the estate would not be disposing waste water into the city's sewerage network, he added.

Of the total project cost of nearly Rs.50 crore, 40 per cent is being utilised for the improvement of industrial estates in Thirumudivakkam and Thirumazhisai. Following the successful functioning of sewage treatment plants, the company is proposing facilities to treat effluent.

Members of the CAAIIUC said that effluent generated by nearly 100 to 150 industries in a 25 km radius would also be treated in the facilities.

However, many of these estates face problems in handling sewage and garbage illegally dumped on their premises.

Industrial unit holders in Perungudi want the State government's intervention in the safe disposal of waste water. The sewage treatment plant in the estate has not been functioning properly and some units discharge untreated sewage in the waterways, they said. Smaller industrial estates, including the one at Vyasarpadi, complain of poor infrastructure and want the government to take over the maintenance.

Welcoming the industrial estates' eco-friendly efforts, environmental experts in the city said industrial units must minimise generation of garbage and waste water. Reuse and recycling must be given priority than the disposal, they said.

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