Tannery menace

Effluents pollute Kalingarayan canal in Tamil Nadu

By C Balaji
Published: Saturday 31 December 2005

farmers in Erode district of Tamil Nadu (tn) have strongly protested against effluents from tannery industries polluting the Kalingarayan canal, a subsidiary of the river Bhavani.

The 91-kilometre Kalingarayan canal has nearly 44 tannery industries and 532 dyeing units near it. Coloured effluents from these units have affected the biota in the local stream. In the long run, dissolved oxygen in the canal water would get reduced and affect aquatic life in the Bhavani river.

The Supreme Court had ordered that the Loss of Ecological Authority (lea) be set up under the moef in 1996, to look into the matter. lea took out a report in 1999 and made suggestions to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (tnpcb). It recommended the tannery units start reverse osmosis in a stipulated period, which would be monitored by the tnpcb . Failing this, the units would be shut down. They also recommended the transfer of 20 tannery units from the canal's vicinity to the industrial area of State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited's in Perrundurai in Erode. But many of these units still exist in the canal's vicinity.

Kalingarayan Pasana Sangam's president V M Velayuthan says, "About 30,000 families of farmers have been affected. People have developed skin diseases and pregnantwomen have got aborted by drinking the canal water. The industry is threatening us but we are going to raise our voice against this tyranny."

Sathyasundari, president of Bhavani River Protection Council (brpc), a non-governmental organisation, said, "Effluents from the tanneries could destroy cultivable lands and trigger health hazards. The government is underplaying the situation. Our field study revealed the canal water was making men impotent."

The protests have now reached a head but the collector of Erode district D Karthikeyan believes, "The situation is under control. If at all the farmers need to voice their concerns they can do it in a peaceful manner and the district administration will pass on their demands to the state government."

Farmers rejected this offer. Velayuthan said, "Nearly 9,500 hectares of cultivatable lands were affected. Compensations of one lakh per acre should be provided." tnpcb joint chief engineer Mohan Naidu said, "The government is monitoring the situation and has ordered to de-silt the canal. But no proposals for compensations have been made as yet."

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