Economy

Noyyal river: No longer a life giver

L. N. Revathy | Updated on February 15, 2011

A file photo of polluted water at Kasipalayam, downstream of the Noyyal river in Tirupur. Photo: M. Balaji   -  The Hindu

Being a seasonal river with peak flow only during monsoon, the river plays reluctant host the rest of the year to untreated sewage and industrial effluents discharged by the units located along the river basin.



The River Noyyal, which rises from the Vellingiri Hills in the Western Ghats and once considered the holiest of rivers in the Coimbatore and Tirupur region is today a chocked, encroached and polluted rivulet that struggles and pushes its way amidst effluents and toxins.

Being a seasonal river with peak flow only during monsoon, the river plays reluctant host the rest of the year to untreated sewage and industrial effluents discharged by the units located along the river basin.

Such effluents have already compromised agriculture in the Noyyal basin by polluting both – groundwater and river. The effects of this pollution are becoming evident.

According to the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974, every industry is required to get consent to discharge its effluents.

The same Act, however, empowers the State Government to exempt any region or area from the provisions of the Act.

This exempt status was granted to Tirupur to promote its textile units and the results of the PSB's largesse can be seen floating as scum on the Noyyal.

The State Government, in its eagerness to promote the textile industry conveniently overlooked all the damage that its action would cause to the area's groundwater, the Noyyal and the agriculture in the region.

Following pressure from environmentalists and farmers, appointment of chairpersons of Pollution Control Board was made by the State.

The TNPCB authorities started to pressurise industries – the dyeing and bleaching units - to put up effluent treatment plants in Tirupur.

As many as 424 dyeing units constructed the ETPs, while 288 units opted to get connected to the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs).

Sadly though, a good number of units continue to discharge the untreated effluents into the river to this day.

The Noyyal River Ayacutdars' Protection Association, which has time and again been raising hue and cry about discharge of untreated effluents into the river basin filed a writ against the PWD and the TNPCB for wilful disobedience of the Supreme Court Orders and directives.

Pressure from the civil society coupled with judicial intervention – The Madras High Court Order – led to the closure of the dyeing units in Tirupur late last month. This (closure) though is not the first time.

The Court had held that the TNPCB had failed to take action for closure of the erring units.

The Bench, in its order reiterated that those units that had fulfilled all conditions, it would be open to the TNPCB to issue orders of consent to operate and such units would be closely and continuously monitored to ensure strict compliance of the orders for zero liquid discharge.

Observers, meanwhile, allege the State of not responding to the pollution crisis of the Noyyal River in particular, on time.

Published on February 15, 2011

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