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Effluents take a toll on groundwater

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WOES to the brim: Residents of many localities in Pammal and Tiruneermalai complain of problems due to stagnation of effluents from leather tanneries.
WOES to the brim: Residents of many localities in Pammal and Tiruneermalai complain of problems due to stagnation of effluents from leather tanneries.

K. Manikandan

TAMBARAM: Pammal Municipality may be a model for solid waste management, with a zero waste centre in place to recycle plastic waste and to convert kitchen waste into manure. The same, however, can not be said when it comes to handling liquid waste.

Effluents from leather tanneries stagnate in vast open spaces in the residential localities of Pammal Municipality and Tiruneernamalai town panchayat. The problem is reportedly owing to a technical snag in the underground pipelines at Ranga Nagar and Temple Town in Tiruneermalai.

The pipes transport treated effluents from the Pallavaram Tanners’ Industrial Effluent Treatment Plant in Nagalkeni, before being let out into the Adyar near the Municipality’s Zero Waste Centre in Vishweswapuram.

Residents of these two localities complain that the stagnation of effluents was causing irreparable damage to farm lands where paddy was raised even a year ago. Domestic wells and deep borewells were also affected due to the stagnation of effluents, they alleged.

Residents of Temple Town charged that water quality was severely affected ever since effluents began to stagnate near their houses.

The residents, some of them government employees, preferred anynoymity. A representative of the treatment plant said all efforts were being taken to plug the leakage in the pipelines. Raw effluents from 130 units in Pammal and Nagalkeni areas are transported to the plant that has a capacity to treat three lakh litres every day.

The treated effluent let out in to the Adyar is well within the stipulated norms, the representative said.

However, residents are not convinced and alleged that the raw effluents are being discharged into some water channels along Tiruneermalai – Pallavaram Main Road by some units.

Officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said there was a proposal to install a Reverse Osmosis unit inside the effluent treatment plant, which would provide a permanent end to the problem of contamination.

Complaints of pollution by effluents is not restricted only in Pammal but also Nallambakkam near Vandalur, where sustained efforts by residents led to the partial closure of a leather tannery. Residents of the village that comes under Kattankulathur panchayat union pointed to the withered crops and trees owing to contamination of groundwater by effluents .

After several months of struggle led by educated youth from the village, the Kancheepuram district administration responded by ordering the closure of the “wet unit” of the tannery while its dry unit was allowed to function. Residents said that some of the farmers panicked and began to sell their farm lands at abysmally low prices.

Safe, protected water was increasingly becoming scarce. There should be more vigil by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to prevent contamination of groundwater so that farm lands were protected, a resident said.

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