Staff Reporter

196 villages in 7 taluks affected by groundwater pollution

AMBUR: Tirupattur Sub-Division Sub-Collector Ashish Kumar has ordered the closure of four tannery units in Ambur and Pernambut for not having paid compensation to the damage caused to ecology and agricultural fields in the district. The units were sealed on Wednesday.

The decision to seal the units came in the wake of the Vellore District Collector having to file a status report before the Green Bench of the Madras High Court on the action taken against tanneries that had caused irreversible damage to 1,500 hectares of agriculture fields covering seven taluks in the district.

Representatives of Vellore District Environment Monitoring Committee said that damage had been caused to 29,000 farmers in the district. A total of 196 villages covering seven taluks had been affected by groundwater pollution.

The worst damage had been caused to agriculture fields. One of the reasons was that the tannery units spread across Ambur and Pernambut discharged untreated effluents into the agriculture fields and nearby areas. Even the Palar, one of the main drinking water resources in the district, continued to be polluted.

They said that the Vellore District Environment Monitoring Committee had filed a writ petition before the Green Bench.

The court had directed the polluted tannery units to pay compensation to the affected farmers based on the assessment of damage caused to the farmers.

Only three-fourth of the compensation had so far been paid to the farmers covering the period from August 12, 1991 to December 31, 1998.

The court had directed that the compensation continue beyond the specified period till the damage caused to 29,000 farmers was set right. It was under these circumstances that the tannery units identified to have caused the pollution were yet to pay a compensation of Rs.7.5 crore to the farmers.

There had been a delay in recovering the compensation from the units.

However, it was learnt from official sources that one of the main reasons for the delay was that most of the tannery units, that were liable to pay compensation, had closed down.

The whereabouts of most of the tannery unit owners were yet to be known.