Untreated effluents from illegal dyeing units flowing into two canals originating from Avathipalayam and Sillankadu villages near Pallipalayam here is a common sight. These canals merge with the Cauvery at Ramakrishna Nagar, polluting the river, which a majority of people in the area depend on for potable water.
While the situation is grim, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has completely failed to rein in the 3,000-odd illegal small textile dyeing units in the area, most of which have laid underground plastic pipelines to discharge untreated effluents into the canals.
Many textile dyeing units at Pallipalayam and Kumarapalayam let off effluents into the canals, which flow into the Cauvery. More than 20, 000 families in these two towns are forced to use the untreated river water for drinking purposes,” said A Aadhavan, an environmentalist.
According to him, more than 3,000 small textile dyeing units are functioning at Komarapalayam and Pallipalayam areas illegally. “All of them discharge effluents into the nearby canals without treating them,” he said.
Both the Pallipalayam and Kumarapalayam towns are situated on the banks of Cauvery. None of the dyeing units in these areas have an effluent treatment plant.
Pointing out that all the drains in the region were also merging with the Cauvery, the environmentalist said the river water was getting mixed with both sewage and effluents. “The river is getting more polluted day by day as large quantity of untreated effluents are discharged into the Cauvery daily,” he said.
Residents of Pallipalayam and Kumarapalayam areas, meanwhile, said borewell water was also getting contaminated because of the illegal dyeing units and that they were forced to depend on municipal water supply.
When contacted, D Jayalakshmi, district environmental engineer with TNPCB said they were taking regular action against the polluters. “We will once again monitor the present situation and take necessary action.”
It is to be noted that TNPCB has never done anything to shut down the textile dyeing units in the area, despite several petitions regarding them polluting the Cauvery, the lifeline of many residents. Some sources said the illegal units were functioning in the area with the “consent” of TNPCB officials, who take bribe from them at regular intervals.
The dyeing units have been operational for more than five years, said S Samikannu, one of the residents. “These units pollute both the waterbodies and ground water. Most of us drink water only after purifying it with RO units. At times, we are forced to buy bottled water from outside,” he said
Take stern action against unit owners: Activist
Environmentalist A Aadhavan said the illegal dyeing units at Avathipalayam village were not concerned about the health hazard they pose to local residents by letting untreated effluents flow into the Cauvery
Pointing to the canal at Sillankadu, he said there was hardly any water in its point of origin. “But, the canal is flowing with untreated effluents after 1km from its origin. Likewise, water is crystal clear in the canal that originates at Avathipalayam. The water gets contaminated after it crosses Sillankadu village.”
The environmentalist said the dyeing unit owners have laid underground plastic pipelines for several kms to the canals. “They release the untreated effluents after completing the processing works.”
He also urged TNPCB officials to take strict action against the dyeing unit owners for polluting the Cauvery.