The district has been witnessing a fresh spurt in the establishment of unauthorised textile processing units.
The absence of effective monitoring by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the district administration has encouraged persons to establish illegal processing units near waterways and rivers in the district.
“The increased flow of toxic, untreated effluents in the waterways indicates that more units have come up in the district. We have found many units functioning in the surroundings of Erode and Bhavani towns,” Tamil Nadu Farmers Association district secretary T. Subbu says.
Officials from the board themselves found five unauthorised units operating in Veerappan Chatram and Choolai areas, a few days ago, and demolished them.
“This confirms that the district continues to be a safe haven for the polluting industries,” Mr. Subbu points out.
A few months ago, the district administration managed to bring down the pollution level to a significant extent by launching a series of drives to demolish unauthorised units and shutdown the approved ones that were found polluting the water sources.
Later, the officials failed to monitor the textile processing and tannery industries. “In the last six months, officials from the board and the district administration had not initiated any sustainable efforts to identify and demolish the unauthorised textile processing units. Only when complaints pour in from farmers, officials wake up and initiate a drive. Demolishing just five units will not solve the problem. Officials have to identify all the illegal processing units and close them permanently. Besides, criminal action should be initiated against managements of the units,” demands Kalingarayan Pasanga Sabhai president V.M. Velayudham.
Though the district-level committee formed based on the orders of the Madras High Court directed the board several months ago to register criminal case against those operating illegal processing units and those renting their lands to set up such units, officials from the board had not registered a single case till date.
“By not registering a case, officials of TNPCB demonstrated their total lack of commitment towards controlling pollution,” Mr. Subbu alleges.
Board District Environmental Engineer G. Gopalakrishnan, however, denied the allegations and said that it had been watching the activities of the industrial units closely. “We have controlled the polluting industries to a greater extent,” he said.