Chennai: Small waterbodies in southern suburbs remain neglected

Plastic, garden and kitchen waste dumped on them

The ‘malaikuttai’ in Zamin Raayapettai in Chromepet is a waterbody that presents a pathetic sight

TAMBARAM: It is not just the huge and sprawling lakes in the southern suburbs of Chennai that are crying for attention from the State government agencies and urban and rural local bodies.

IN NEED OF ATTENTION: Small waterbodies such as ‘malaikuttai’ in Zamin Raayapettai could contribute significantly to the water table if maintained properly.— Photo: A.Muralitharan

Even small waterbodies that could be of immense benefit in conserving precious rainwater have been completely ignored. In addition to the 300 lakes in Tambaram taluk, the southern suburbs are dotted with small tanks (‘kulam’) and ponds (‘kuttai’). While a few of them have been revived because of the intervention of environmentalists, most other small waterbodies of temples, those created in abandoned quarries and natural ponds nestled in the midst of residential localities remain neglected.

The ‘malaikuttai’ in Zamin Raayapettai in Chromepet, Pallavaram Municipality, for instance, is a waterbody that presents a pathetic sight. It has an expanse of less than one acre and residents said it was formed several years ago in an abandoned quarry site. The rocky surface ensured that perennial springs continuously fed the waterbody. Though it was not a direct source to draw water, it ensured that the water table in this part of Zamin Raayapettai was always maintained.

Today, a blanket of plastic, garden and kitchen waste, besides others forms of refuse, can be seen over the water surface. Even huge chunks of chopped-down trees have been dumped on the waterbody, making it a receptacle of filth.

Krishna Giri, a resident of Radha Nagar, complained that there was no positive response from the government agencies concerned. Citing reports and announcements that several hundred crore rupees were being spent on water supply improvement and cement concrete road-laying projects in the local bodies around Chennai, she wondered why a few lakh rupees could not be spent in protecting waterbodies such as the ‘malaikuttai.’

Pallavaram Municipal Chairman E.Karunanidhi said they were preparing a scheme for carrying out improvement works on the pond and they would begin by constructing a compound wall around it. There were also proposals to build a ground level service reservoir (underground sump) to store Palar drinking water when they expand the distribution system. However, a decision would be made later, Mr. Karunanidhi said, adding the municipal administration would protect the waterbody.


Tamilnadu: Call to save the Palar River from pollution

“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.

Unchecked: Lorries quarrying sand at the Palar river bed in Sathambakkam village near Walajapet.

Unchecked: Lorries quarrying sand at the Palar river bed in Sathambakkam village near Walajapet.

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.


Tamilnadu: Reliance planning a single-well programme in high risk Cauvery-Palar block

The operating committee (OC) of the Cauvery-Palar Basin block CY-PR-DWN-2001/3 has decided to launch a single-well exploration programme in the deepwater acreage. “A fresh exploration programme is expected to commence in the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) operated block by February-March 2010,” reliable company sources have said. The processing of the 3D seismic programme has been completed recently, however data interpretation is still underway.

Exploration, especially in the deep-sea blocks off the country’s coast, is an expensive process involving very complex technology, sources added. Reliance wants a complete and updated seismic map of the Cauvery-Palar basin, in which the company owns four blocks, totalling 41,770 sq km. It had initially bid for the blocks along with Hardy Oil and Gas, but Hardy sold its 10% interest to Reliance in 2004.

The E&P major had a major face-off with the ministry over the non-submission of bank guarantees towards an extension of the exploratory phase in the Cauvery-Palar block. Reliance came under the petroleum ministry’s scrutiny earlier this year, when the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) was asked to explain as to why the private sector E&P major dithered on fulfilling this statutory requirement even after securing the upstream regulator’s recommendation for an extension of the Phase-I MWP in the block up to December 31, 2007, in order to garner the benefits of the proposed rig moratorium policy of the government.

Reliance had originally sought an extension for Phase-I exploration in the block from October 2007, when the first phase of exploration was set to expire after a first extension of six months, up to April 2008, in order to complete an additional work programme in the block.

The DGH had subsequently sought the submission of bank guarantees for the extensions as per the terms of the government’s new extension policy. The contractor, however, neither submitted the bank guarantee nor pursued the case despite several reminders.

Source: IndianPetro