More than 90 illegal dyeing units spread across Erode, Namakkal and Salem districts were pulled down by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and Revenue officials on Tuesday.

The crackdown that began in Erode a couple of days ago, spread to Salem district on Tuesday with the detection of more unauthorised units. As many as 122 units were demolished on Monday in Namakkal.

Officials pointed out that as in the case of Erode and Namakkal, unauthorised units were set up in Salem after their owners had to close operations in Tirupur following a High Court order on pollution caused by the untreated effluents.

The crackdown spread to Edapadi in Salem, with protest from farmers and residents over the pollution of river Sarabanga. While 39 units were demolished at Edapadi, more than 50 others were razed in Erode and Namakkal districts. Officials said 250 units had been demolished in Erode and Namakkal over the last three days.

A special team raided the units at Edapadi and demolished the cement tanks, roofs, machinery and other equipment used for dyeing purposes. But with just four police constables available for security and the workers and dyers resisting the raid strongly, the demolition team could not remove the entire structures and machinery. They had to withdraw from the site, permitting the dyers to remove all their machines.

A police officer claimed that they were informed about the raid only on Tuesday morning and hence could not provide adequate security. A TNPCB official said the eviction team would return later to remove all illegal units in the district.

A farmer said that after pollution Noyyal and Bhavani rivers, the units began to pollute river Sarabanga, which was the main water source for Edapadi. Farming was affected as the discharge of untreated effluents into the river prevented irrigation, he said.

In Erode district, a total of 20 dyeing units were found functioning on the banks of Cauvery river without approval on Tuesday.

In Namakkal district, officials found more than 30 units in Pallipalayam and Komarapalayam blocks. Most of these units were functioning from temporary structures and letting out huge amount of untreated toxic effluents into the river. A few units were also found established near the Kalingarayan canal, lifeline of thousands of farmers in Erode district, officials pointed out. The demolition of the concrete structures, including the storage tanks and machinery, was aimed at preventing the units from coming up at some other place along the river, officials said.

A Revenue official said action would be initiated against the owner of some units for making the workers dye cloth and yarn with bare hands. The workers should wear gloves and other protective gear to prevent problems to skin and eyes from the dyes.