‘Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board will take steps to control pollution’

The water flow in the Bhavani River has witnessed a substantial increase since last week and the farmers depending on the river for irrigation are gravely concerned. The reason - the water flow has gone up because the textile processing and tannery units are dumping thousands of gallons of untreated, toxic effluents in the river.

“We will be happy if the flow increases due to the release of water from the Bhavanisagar dam. What the river receives now is huge amount of toxic effluents from the textile processing and tannery units,” points out district secretary of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association T. Subbu.

The colour of the water flowing in the river has turned black due to the continuous dumping of untreated effluents.

The total absence of monitoring by the district administration and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is the major reason that has encouraged the industrial units to dump the untreated effluents in the river, causing serious damage to the environment.

Hundreds of authorised and unauthorised units are functioning near the river. More than 95 per cent of the units do not have an effluent treatment system. These units discharge the effluents in the waterways as treating them attracts huge cost, farmers point out.

Many farmers claim that they have taken this issue to the notice of the senior officials.

“The authorities in the district and the TNPCB are well aware of the dumping of untreated effluents.

There were directions from the court and orders from the State and Central governments. Officials can take stringent action under the existing rules. Still, they do not take any action to shut down the polluting industrial units for reasons best known to them. We don’t know where to take our grievances or whom to approach to solve this problem. All doors seem to be shut,” laments V.M. Velayudham of Kalingarayan Pasana Sabhai.

Thousands of farmers, who depend on the river, are now forced to use the effluent-mixed water to grow crops. Many farmers are growing vegetables, banana, paddy, turmeric, and other crops using polluted water from the Bhavani River as there is no other source available for them.

The effluents discharged in the river are highly toxic and the possibility of toxins entering the food chain is high. Hundreds of people, who buy these vegetables, banana and other food crops, are facing serious health risks. The continuous inaction from the administration will lead to a serious public health problem, environmental activists here warn.

District Environmental Engineer (Perundurai) R. Mathivanan said the board would take steps to control pollution.

“We are taking action against the polluting industrial units. But, we have a severe staff shortage in our division,” he said.

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