Only five farmers present at a review meeting called by TNPCB to discuss the issue

Karur, home to India’s major textile exporters, has earned a bad name for its dyeing units releasing hazardous effluents into the rivers.

The effluents from the dyeing units have ravaged the Amaravathy, the Cauvery, and the Noyyal.

These units remain an enigma both for the hunter and the hunted, dyeing units and the farmers in this case.

Striking a balance between inclusive industrial growth and conserving the myriad bounties of nature appears a mirage at least in the Karur industrial belt. The conduct of the supposed review meet on establishing an integrated dyeing park in the district bore testimony to the concerns from environmentalists.

Chaired by the Environment Minister M.C. Sampath in the presence of Transport Minister V. Senthil Balaji and the top officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), a meet was arranged in Karur on Friday to discuss inter alia concerns of the farmers and stakeholders in establishing the dyeing park estimated to cost Rs. 285 crore at Punam village.

The dwarfing presence of five farmers differentiated by their green shawls summed up the dilemma of the TNPCB officials who had arranged the meet.

The farmers reportedly wanted their environmental issues taken care of adequately before the launch of the project at Punnam. They pointed out the possible adverse effects if their livelihood were to be affected in any manner due to the establishment of the dyeing park.

But the small-scale farmers, who had been pleading for years seeking adequate and immediate disbursal of compensation for the pollution affected fields, were participating in the monthly grievances meet just a few km away at the Collectorate.

“If anyone had the intention to hear us out, then they should have pretty well come to the agricultural grievances meet in which we have been demanding due and swift compensation settlement. We never knew about the TNPCB meet and that is how the serious issue is being dealt with by the powers that be,” says pollution affected Panchamadevi Nanjai Aycutars Association secretary M. Ramasamy.

At the recent agriculture grievance meet at the Collectorate, farmers led by Association of Farmers Affected by Pollution president Karuppampalayam Ramasamy were fervently pleading for compensation for yet another time.

Definitely an integrated dyeing park, with enough State support to entrepreneurs, must come up in Karur to reverse the sagging global fortunes of the local textile industry.

But that should have a calibrated and balanced approach towards industrial growth and eco concerns. Only then such meets would carry conviction, points out chairman of the Consumer Federation S. Gopalan.

The icing on the cake was provided by Mr. Balaji when he said that malpractice by a handful had been discrediting the whole fraternity and to steer clear of troubles the industry leaders must themselves uncover the mischief mongers and flouters of pollution control norms to complement the job of officials.