Coimbatore: Rain fails to fill Valankulam tank

Only restoration of flow in two canals will help the water body fill during North-East Monsoon

COIMBATORE: Stray cattle graze on it, boys play cricket on it and huts are put up unauthorisedly on what is supposed to be a major water resource in the city – Valankulam.

Only a few small pools of water interspersed on the north-eastern side of the railway line remind people that this was once the tank that kept the ground water level high in Ramanathapuram, Race Course and areas around Tiruchi Road.

One of the eight major tanks in the city, the present condition of the 160-acre Valankulam can give a water resource conservationist the most severe heart attack. A tank that can hold 17 million cubic ft (mcft) of water is mostly bone dry.

TANK IN DISTRESS: The sordid state of Valankulam, a major water body in the city. – Photo: K. Ananthan

TANK IN DISTRESS: The sordid state of Valankulam, a major water body in the city. – Photo: K. Ananthan

Just a km away, the 320-acre Big Tank at Ukkadam is full to its capacity of 70 mcft.

Water from River Noyyal during the South West Monsoon filled the Big Tank. But, the surplus water from this tank did not flow to the Valankulam through a three-km link canal as the canal was clogged with debris and garbage.

Siruthuli, a public initiative to conserve water resources, says the Valankulam could have filled up in just a day if the surplus water had flowed from the Big Tank.

Another major reason was that the flow to the Big Tank itself was stopped at Selvapuram.

Water from River Noyyal reaches the Big Tank through the three-km Coimbatore Canal from the Coimbatore Anaicut.

But, the canal sluice was shut during heavy rain this year as a backflow into LIC Colony at Selvapuram led to protests from the residents. Waste water from Selvapuram flows through a drain to the canal.

But, when there is heavy flow in the river, the backflow causes stagnation of rain water and waste water in the colony.

Now, Coimbatore expects more rain from the North-East Monsoon. Water has to flow through this canal to Big Tank if this water body and the Valankulam have to fill up, Siruthuli points out.

The dry tank is only encouraging slum dwellers to put up more huts on the tank, it says.

A Rs. 20-lakh plan drawn up now suggests another drain to take the waste water to the river instead of the canal.

This line can bypass the canal so that the water way and the tank it fills will not have waste water.

As for the Big Tank-Valankulam link at Ukkadam, the district administration, Public Works Department, the Coimbatore Corporation and Siruthuli have hammered out a solution: constructing a culvert at Rs. 9 lakh.

A sizeable portion of the funding will be done by the Government under the Nammakku Naame Thittam. While the PWD carries out such works, the Corporation seems to be willing to do it, according to official sources.

At present, there is a thin flow of water from Big Tank to Valankulam after the Corporation removed 25 lorry loads of debris recently from the link canal.

But, the proposed culvert and regular flow in the Coimbatore Canal are seen as a permanent solution.


India: SC tells Tirupur’s dyeing industry to pay for polluting

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court has come down hard on industries polluting water bodies, applying the ‘polluters pay’ principle against 150-odd dyeing units in Tirupur’s garment export which had been discharging their waste in Noyyal river.

In an order that may be cited by green activists, the court asked the dyeing units at Karur and Tirupur, which cater to the huge forex earning garment export industry in Tamil Nadu, to pay for cleaning the River Noyyal and other water bodies massively polluted by discharge from their factories.

Agreeing with the stand of the Noyyal River Ayacutdars Protection Association, SC refused to take any lenient view of the environmental hazard resulting from the noxious effluent discharged by the factories adversely affecting the river, the Orthapalayam reservoir and other tanks and channels of the river.

The court noted that the industries have set up 17 common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) and were asked to pay up Rs 55.60 crore for eco-restoration and pollution check work. The Tirupur Dyeing Factories Association, as per a Madras High Court order, had paid up Rs 25 crore for this purpose. The SC said the rest of the amount had to be paid within three months.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan said: “It is desirable that the members of the appellant association should ensure the compliance of the directions including the payment of the dues within three months.”

“They shall ensure that no pollution is caused to the river or dam and if cleaning operation has not yet been completed, it shall be completed within three months,” the Bench said.

It said: “Undoubtedly, there has been unabated pollution by the members of the appellant association. They cannot escape the responsibility to meet the expenses of reversing the ecological damage. They are bound to meet the expenses of removing the sludge from the river and also for cleaning the dam. The principles of `polluters pay’ and `precautionary principle’ have to be read with the doctrine of sustainable development.”

The court noted that Tirupur was an industrial hub providing employment to five lakh people in garment industries there, which earn around Rs 10,000 crore in foreign exchange annually for the country.