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Tirupur wet processing units blamed for pollution — May be asked to pay compensation

G. Gurumurthy

The Loss of Ecology Authority has also planned to visit the Amarvathy river basin areas in Karur to assess the extent of the pollution damage caused by the local textile processors there.

COIMBATORE, Dec. 30

THE textile wet-processing industries in Tirupur and Karur, the State's two major textile exporting zones, have come into the close scrutiny of pollution compliance auditing yet again, this time by the Loss of Ecology Authority (LEA), headed by a retired judge Mr Bhaskaran.

The LEA members conducted a two-day visit this month to assess the loss of ecology in the Noyyal river belt, in which the Tirupur wet processing industries fall. The industries stand blamed for the serious ground water pollution occurring in the neighbouring Erode district, especially the farm lands near the Orathupallam check dam.

The authority has also planned to visit shortly the Amarvathy river basin areas in Karur to assess the extent of the pollution damage caused by the local textile processors there.

The areas in the Noyyal downstream in the Orathupallam dam in Kangeyam taluk of Erode, which receive the heavy effluent discharged from the processing units from Tirupur zones, are pounded by the salt laden dye-house effluents severely contaminating the river water/ground water irrigation/ environment in the area.

Unlike the past pollution investigation, the LEA's pollution check has now sounded alarm in the Tirupur processing industry as the Authority has sought to fix responsibility and minimum compensation to the loss suffered by the farmers.

The Authority had a series of sittings both in Erode and Coimbatore meeting the farmers of Noyyal basin, agriculturists in Erode, revenue authorities of both the district, besides the polluting industries after visiting the affected areas in the Orathupallam dam on December 23 and 24.

The LEA has now asked for a complete assessment of the environment damage in the Noyyal basin around Orathupallam and fixation of the losses suffered by the farmers there.

It has entrusted the Anna University's department of environmental studies to assess the pollution damages in the area, which will take six months, it is said.

Based on this, the LEA will fix the quantum of compensation payable by the Tirupur industries and the same would be handed over to the district authorities for implementation.

Mr Justice Bhaskaran during the interaction with the Tirupur dying houses, it is said, has reportedly suggested the latter to make some interim compensation to the farmers affected by the effluent discharge, pending the final assessment.

This has really unnerved the Tirupur industries. The fear of a larger financial implications looming over them, the Tirupur wet processors have now approached the apex exporters body, Tirupur Exporters Association, (TEA) asking the latter to have wider debate on pros and cons of compensating the loss of ecology.

Their contention is that dyeing industry alone should not be held responsible for the loss of ecology in the Noyyal belt and the blame should be shared by others too, including the municipalities and local bodies which keep polluting the river-course through discharge of wastes.

It may be recalled that the 1998 Madras High Court's Green bench had asked the Tirupur wet processing industry to foot the bill for removing the sediments of effluent deposited in the Orathupallam check dam. The PWD authorities had then calculated the cost of desilting and removing these sediments, largely the salt discharged from the dyeing houses, from the dam at Rs12.5 crore.

The Tirupur industries then reportedly agreed to bear the cost of desilting.

The LEA's visit has spurred the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) too and the latter has started putting pressure on the Tirupur processing units by serving a deadline on the members of the common effluent treatment plants for reducing the load of effluents discharged by them.

The PCB has served notices on 10 leading wet processing units to effect dye-bath segregation and salt removal in their effluent treatment process and set the January five next as the date for achieving this.

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