Thrust on tanneries adopting eco-friendly technologies

VELLORE, APRIL 24. The State Government has sent proposals worth Rs.25 crores each to the Centre for mixing tannery effluents with municipal sewage — one for Ranipet and Walajapet and the other for Ambur — under the National River Action Plan, said S. Balaji, Director, Department of Environment.

Speaking at a district-level workshop for `Preparation of State of Environment' report for Vellore district here recently, Mr. Balaji said all along, the tannery pollution problem had been looked upon as an `end-of-the-pipe' pollution problem. But now the thrust of the State Government was to encourage the tanneries to resort to eco-friendly production technologies — such as chrome recovery systems — for elimination of pollution at source. The Government was working on this concept, believed to be the ultimate solution to the problem.

The Director of the department said the report for Tamil Nadu would be finalised based on individual reports from the districts. A draft would be ready by the end of May, he said.

Inaugurating the workshop, the Collector, A.C. Mohandoss, said afforestation should become a people's movement and should not be the exclusive concern of a handful of environmentalists or non-governmental organisations or even the Forest department.

The message of rainwater harvesting began as a simple idea and grew into a movement. Similarly, afforestation should be the concern of every citizen. It was indeed disturbing to realise that the worry is about the future of the planet's forest water supply. "Although two-thirds of our planet is covered by water, only three per cent of the world's water is fresh water. The remaining 97 per cent is too salty for human use", he said. He said the district had a forest cover of 27.25 per cent of its land area and regretted that the rich reserve of sandalwood trees, which the district once possessed, had now become a thing of the past.

The Conservator of Forests, Vellore Circle, A. Samant Singhar, stressed the need for improving the forest eco systems to facilitate agriculture. Since 75 per cent of the agricultural water requirements were met from groundwater resources, it was necessary to concentrate on water conservation measures such as constructing check-dams.

He stressed the need to involve women's SHGs not only for forest conservation but also for settling environmental issues.

The active participation of smugglers, grazers and woodcutters should be enlisted in making the programme a success, he said.

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