The units have sunk open wells on the Amaravathy riverbed; the activity has been going on unchecked

Many dyeing units in Karur have been illegally siphoning off groundwater from the parched Amaravathy riverbed. The unlawful activity has been going on unchecked under the very nose of the officials.

Scores of dyeing units are situated at Sellandipalayam, Sukkaliyur and Rayanur on the southern banks of the river in Karur. Though a ban is in place on operating dyeing units without zero liquid discharge systems, many units are operating on the sly. The officials have taken token action against some units but many continue to operate unimpeded in the region.

For undertaking dyeing activity, the units require lakhs of litres of water every day for which they have been relying heavily on the River Amaravathy. The dyers have not only used the river for siphoning off water but also have been peremptorily dumping effluents for several years only to spoil the whole river stretch in the district.

Support from politicians and some pliant officials connive as several dyeing units have sunk open wells on the dry riverbed and laid pipes, beneath the surface of the river bed, to convey water surreptitiously to the huge sumps located in their unit premises on the banks. More than 24 such illegal water wells situated between the Madurai Bye Pass bridge and Thirumanilayur are draining sub surface water from the parched river bed.

Though the units have a sanctioned capacity between 18,000 litres and 55,000 litres per day, they flagrantly violate norms to consume and discharge anywhere from one lakh litres to six lakh litres per day, sources say, alleging that a bunch of seven big dyeing units in Sukkaliyur and Sellandipaayam consume eight lakh litres of water per day individually. An estimated 70 lakh litres of water is being smuggled out by the dyeing units every day from the riverbed to the detriment of the residents and the ecology.

Some units have even installed motor pump sets on the riverbed. All the motors are being operated with stolen power and power diverted from agricultural connections, all free of cost. Tangedco (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) officials levied hefty fine on a couple of units for power theft and pilferage but a lot many continue to operate openly.

At a recent meeting held in Madurai, officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board flatly rejected most of the applications filed by dyeing units, seeking an increase in their installed capacity. They reasoned that the Thanthoni block has been classified critical for ground water exploitation for commercial purposes. Still the illegal activity goes on.

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