Delta farmers here have sought their inclusion in the consultations that have commenced on the issue of closure of dyeing units and the course of action on the discharge of effluents that was generated during their operations.

The government-led consultations were inclusive of stakeholders from industry as well as the farming community, and was conducted as part of the electoral promise.

The consultations that commenced on Monday included Noyyal farmers and Orathupalayam farmers as stakeholders. However, progressive farmers here in the delta and its tail-end, have called for inclusion of their lot, as dyeing units have had an impact on the downstream as well.

Early this year, over 700 dyeing units were ordered shut by the Madras High Court for the pollution caused in the waterbodies and flouted environmental norms.

Speaking to TheHindu, S.Ranganathan, Cauvery Delta Farmers Association said that the polluted Noyyal water gets released during floods, as it happened during the Nisha cyclone. So, there is confluence in the Cauvery through feeder channels at Karur.

The downstream is not as polluted as the upstream, but it will not be too long before it gets there, says Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Association.

“If any solution is to be considered, it could only be that the polluted water is treated and recycled back to the industry. The industry cannot use the water meant for Cauvery,” Mr.Ranganathan said.

The Cauvery delta contributes up to 34 to 40 per cent of the State's food security, and inclusion of delta farmers in the consultations would only help the cause, says Mr. Ranganathan. According to him, the industrial activity in Trichy and Karur should also be studied by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for its effluent discharge directly into the Cauvery.

According to Kaveri Danapalan, Cauvery Farmers Protection Association, the pollution has already had an impact on the delta soil, which has become acidic, affecting food production.

“A study done by TNAU had shown that soil quality had deteriorated in the Delta, and soil bacterial activity had come done from 4,000 to 1,000 for a said unit of measurement,” says Mr.Danapalan.

A cross-section of farmers holds the view that the farmers especially from Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thanjavur must be included in the consultation.

“There were also unconfirmed reports that a proposal had been formulated to discharge the effluents into the sea through a pipeline, which will bring the extent of damage to its full circle,” says Giridharan, Tamizhaga Vivasyigal Sangam. Consultations ought to involve Cauvery Delta farmers, who have equal stakes in it, Mr.Giridharan told The Hindu.