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.