Common effluent treatment plant in Tiruchi becomes defunct

Updated - July 10, 2024 10:10 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 09:15 pm IST

The common effluent treatment plant at Tiruvalarchipatti in Tiruchi.

The common effluent treatment plant at Tiruvalarchipatti in Tiruchi. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

The common effluent treatment plant (CETP), which was constructed at Tiruvalarchipatti near Sempattu on the Tiruchi - Pudukottai Highway with great expectation about 16 years ago, has become defunct with the closure of all tanneries.

It was to address the apprehension of locals about ground water contamination caused by effluent discharged by the leather industries, the CETP was built in 2008. It was set with the contribution of tannery owners and the contribution of the Central and State Governments. According to sources, the tannery owners reportedly contributed ₹ 1.78 crore while the State Government provided ₹ 75 lakh. The Centre had granted an investment subsidy of ₹ 27 lakh.

It was one of the largest treatment plants in the region. Though the project was conceived in the early nineties, it did not materialise due to stringent pollution norms laid by the High Court due to which quite a number of tanneries had to close down. The CEPT established on 27 acres finally came into being in August 2008. It was declared open by M.K. Stalin when he was the Minister for Local Administration.

While the CETP was designed to cater to the needs of about 30 tanneries near Sempattu, it was said that only less than a half of them actually used the facility as other units were closed down one after another due to stringent norms and other factors.

After the commissioning of the CETP, the complaints by the locals on ground water contamination came down drastically as the tanneries discharged the effluent at the plant. It continued to function until December 2022.

The CETP, which was manned by the Tiruchi Tanneries Association, was closed in January 2023 with the closure of the last four tanneries by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on the charges of violation of various rules and regulation.

“It took several months to build the plant and we put in a lot of effort to make it a reality. But it is painful to see the plant and the machinery worth several crores defunct. We were forced to close our factories despite strictly following all rules on running the tanneries,” says A. Sajith, secretary, Tiruchi Tanneries Association.

He said that it would cost several crores of rupees to set up a similar plant now. There was none to use the plant. The reopening of it would only be possible if the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and other bodies supported the tanneries to resume their operation.

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