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Updated: January 28, 2013 01:29 IST

Erode, Namakkal safe haven for polluting units

    S. Ramesh
    M. K. Ananth 
Comment (2)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
An Illegal unit being demolished at Erode. Photo: M.Govarthan
An Illegal unit being demolished at Erode. Photo: M.Govarthan

They dump tonnes of effluents into Cauvery, Bhavani rivers that feed lands of thousands of farmers

Erode and Namakkal have emerged safe havens for scores of dyeing units that had to shut shop in Tirupur after the Madras High Court ordered their closure for flouting pollution norms two years ago.

In spite of the efforts of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), several illegal units continue to flourish in these districts and dump tonnes of effluents into the Cauvery and Bhavani rivers that feed agricultural lands of thousands of farmers.

In Erode, though TNPCB officials claim that they have demolished over 200 illegal units last year and prevented the establishment of such  units, the dumping of toxic effluents is unabated.

“If the units are not discharging effluents, why is the colour of the water black?” asks Kalingarayan Pasana Sabhai president V.M. Velayudham.

The increase in the pollution levels has led to a sharp fall in the agricultural productivity in many parts of the district. “There is a 30 to 35 per cent drop in the yield of many crops including sugarcane and paddy in Kalingarayan ayacut. The yield from coconut trees has come down by 50 per cent,” says S. Nallasamy, president of Lower Bhavani Farmers Association. “We need concrete and long-term solution. If an illegal unit is demolished, its owner will go to another place and set up a new unit because there is huge revenue in this business. The government should consult all the stakeholders and workout a feasible solution to reduce the pollution levels,” said T. Subbu, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association.

In Namakkal too, the TNPCB’s drive against illegal and pollution units are only partly successful. “From March 18, 2011, we have conducted a total of 33 eviction drives – of which most of them were in villages located in Pallipalayam and Komarapalayam areas in Tiruchengode Taluk and on the banks of Cauvery – for directly letting effluents into the river,” district environmental engineer (DEE) of Namakkal M. Murugesan told The Hindu.

The drives led to the demolition of 355 illegal units and seizure of 586 equipments such as jiggers, winches and generators, 69 oil engines and 1,292 cement tanks that were used for manual dyeing.

 Farmers feel that the mushrooming of the dyeing units could be curtailed only with the inclusion of a provision to initiate action against persons leasing their land to dyeing units.

This is a very serious problem that should be taken care immediately. The dyeing units are going a long way in polluting the invaluable resource i.e water from River Bhavini. This menance should be curbed or else this will become a dangerous issue in the years to come. The rivers are the source for the agricultural activity that is taking place in the nearby villages and if this gets polluted then the entire agricultural work will be in soup and could not continue. THE TNPCB has indeed done a good work in closing down some of the units, but there is still a lengthy journey ahead which has to be completed.

Posted on: Jan 28, 2013 at 09:48 IST

This report is at least 10 years late. The truth goes much further than merely moving dyeing units from place to place. To remain competitive, TN dyeing units do not treat effluent water - which is mandated by law. Only by breaking the law do they discharge effluents into the water, even though they have to set up treatment units! They just save money by not running them, and choose instead to pay a little bribe - all to get rich on the backs of farmers. The punishment meted out is so small that it doesn't matter. Farmers and their yields have been going down for years, for various reasons. The government really is clueless or ignorant about the problem. Erode has shown an enormous increase in diseases like cancer over the last decade. How about a study to find the connection, and ask why we need to encourage businesses that are dangerous to life itself? It is obvious to people living in Erode, when they regularly lose friends and relatives to diseases!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Jan 28, 2013 at 09:36 IST
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