Staff Reporter

Untreated sewage must be discharged into sewage treatment plant

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has banned the dumping of waste and discharge of sewage or industrial effluents into the ecologically important Pallikaranai marshland.

In an official release on Friday, the TNPCB, while underscoring the need to protect the Pallikaranai marsh for its rare species, groundwater recharging potential and ecological importance, warned that any violation of its directions would be penalised without prior notice under section 15 (1) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The TNPCB directive also states that untreated sewage be discharged only into the sewage treatment plant operated by Metrowater at Perungudi.

Punishment

The punishment under this section involves imprisonment for a term, which may extend to five years or with fine, which may extend to Rs.1 lakh, or both. In cases of repeated violation, the penalty involves additional fine, which may extend to Rs. 5,000 for every day during which the contravention occurs, after the conviction for the first violation.

Further, if the violation continues beyond a period of one year after the date of first conviction, the offender is liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend to seven years. According to the press note, the basis of the directive is a routine inspection of the Perungudi dump site and the marsh zone by the TNPCB, which found that unsegregated garbage along with other wastes emptied into the marshland by the Chennai Corporation and other local bodies as well as private agencies. This garbage is burnt by ragpickers, causing nuisance to the residential areas and setting off air-pollution. The inspection also observed that untreated sewage collected from nearby areas in tanker lorries was being discharged into the marshland.

The TNPCB has also constituted a Local Area Environment Committee to protect the marsh. The public can refer any complaint on discharge of sewage or solid wastes into the marsh area by any agencies to this committee through the District Environmental Engineer, TNPCB, Tambaram (Phone 22266239). The Pollution Control Board's announcement comes just days after a non-governmental initiative released the results of a recent study on air quality.

An air sample from the Perungudi dumping yard contained the highest number of chemicals found in any Indian sample and it contained cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals.

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