Tamilnadu: Call to save the Palar River from pollution
October 17, 2009 Leave a comment
“CETPs are letting out treated effluents into the river and not reusing them for their processes”
Long-term measures ought to be taken, concedes Collector
“R.O. plants being constructed by CETPs in final stages of completion”
VELLORE: President of the Palar Future Group, Jamuna Thyagarajan, has urged the Tamil Nadu government to save the Palar from pollution by the tannery effluents and to prevent indiscriminate mining of sand in the river to facilitate agriculture in the Palar basin.
She was participating in a monthly agriculturists’ grievances day meeting held at the Collectorate here on Friday. Ms. Thyagarajan said the very fact that the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) are letting out treated effluents into the Palar and not reusing them for their processes shows that they were unable to treat the effluents to the norms of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). Just because the tanneries were earning foreign exchange to the tune of Rs.10,000 crore a year, they had no moral right to pollute the river, which was sustaining a population of more than one crore.
Pointing out that the Loss of Ecology (Prevention and Payment of Compensation) Authority, constituted by the Union government on the orders of the Supreme Court (on a writ petition filed by the Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum) had passed orders to collect Rs.3.67 crore from the tanneries which polluted the river, for reversal of ecology, she regretted that no step has been taken by the government to utilise the amount.
Ms. Thyagarajan criticised the manner in which areas have been randomly selected for the implementation of the World Bank-aided Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) Scheme. She wanted to know why the Upper Palar Basin, in which the tannery pollution-affected lands are located, has not been selected for the scheme.
A proper study of the Upper Palar Basin ought to have been done before selecting the areas for implementation of the scheme, she said.
Ms. Thyagarajan wanted to know why the government has not taken steps to construct eight check dams as promised by it in 2001.
C. Rajendran, Collector of Vellore, who presided over the meeting, conceded that long-term measures ought to be taken to prevent the pollution of the Palar.
An official of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) said that since the effluents discharged by the CETPs did not conform to the TNPCB norms, the Board has asked the CETPs to install reverse osmosis plants which involved zero discharge of effluents.
The R.O. plants being constructed by four CETPs are in the final stages of completion, while the other six CETPs are in the process of constructing the R.O. plants. Once the plants were ready, the tanneries, which were members of the CETPs would utilise the treated effluents for their processes.
He said that the sludge obtained from the CETPs would be disposed of through landfills in such a way that there would be no seepage affecting the groundwater during rains.
Ramasamy, a farmer of Ambur, said that the sludge from tanneries was being dumped in the Palar near Girisamudram.
R. Chandrasekharan, president of Udhavum Ullangal, Vellore, said that stones should be erected to identify the boundaries within which sand should be mined in the Palar so that the contractors did not remove sand in unauthorised areas.
The Water Resources Organisation of the Public Works Department should also erect stones to indicate the depth to which sand could be mined, in order to prevent indiscriminate mining of sand, he said.
When a farmer pointed out that sand miners attacked the public who questioned the illegal mining of sand in the Palar in Devalapuram area, the Collector said that such persons would be booked under the Goondas Act, if the complaints were found true.