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In Search of a Living River: Let us traverse through Tamil Nadu S.Janakarajan Madras Institute of Development Studies Chennai 600 020 email@example.com Presentation made at the India International Center New Delhi 7 th Dec 2011. A brief introduction :
Let us traverse through Tamil Nadu
Madras Institute of Development Studies
Chennai 600 020
Presentation made at the
India International Center
7th Dec 2011
Rivers in India have carried the political, economic and social history of our country
Today water resources in India are under great threat due to indiscriminate use, scarcity and pollution.
This not only undermines the resource base but poses a severe threat to the very foundations of our society, culture and community’s sustenance. This is the context in which I shall discuss the dying or dead rivers of Tamil Nadu
Problems with existing approach of data collection and dissemination
Collect information on visible data very selectively - Such as all land details, rainfall, crop details, water, surface and GW, income and consumer expenditure, assets and liabilities, livestock etc
There are certain data which are never given importance:
Information relating to
Pollution of river basins,
Pollution levels of surface and groundwater
Solid waste, Bio-medical waste, urban sewage, e-waste generation
Floods and droughts – socio-economic losses - expenses incurred by way mitigation
Can we neglect invisible data?
Major river basins of Tamil Nadu
Vaipar & Gundar
Vellar & Manimuthar
Bay of Bengal
Some facts about the Palar basinPalar basin is considered the second rice bowl of the State next to Thanjavur, irrigated by tanks and wells (now both the rice bowls have been disfigured)Highly urbanized with flourishing rural-urban water marketVery high concentration of tanneries; 75% of the tanneries in the State are concentrated in this basin, contributing to 30% of total leather exports of the country, earning Rs.50 billion towards forexTanneries are highly water intensive and polluting industries, generating about 38 mld of effluent with high TDS and chromium and some traces of cyanide Agriculture is very badly affected, decreased yield, abandoned wells, polluted surface and groundwater, acute drinking water problems, serious health problems, rapid decrease in ag. Employment and thousands of people have already left their villages
Extent of pollutants generation in two major tannery centers of the Palar basin
Source: Economic Analysis of Environmental Problems in Tanneries and Suggestions for Policy Action, a study supported by UNDP,Madras School of Economics, 1998
Yield of paddy in the affected and unaffected villages of the Palar basin, 1999
Source: Janakarajan, S, 2006
Public interest litigation and Supreme Court’s intervention through what is regarded as historic judgment
Comprehensive failure of CETP
TNPCB and its role – lack of effective monitoring and law enforcement mechanism
Palar river basin: A spring channel being used by the tanneries for discharging their deadly effluent: Find at the background the beautiful temple renovated to which `generous’ contributions came from tannery owners. Village:Gudimallur near Walajapet
Palar river basin: A overflowing spring channel in Vanninedu village with full of stinking and poisonous tannery effluent: A dying tradition due to the socalled modernity - Agricultural land and groundwater have been polluted heavily besides losing an age old spring channel.
Palar river basin: A spring channel in Vannivedu village flowing colourfully with tannery effluent. A dying tradition!!
Palar river basin: Palar Anicut / Weir with stains of tannery pollutants.
Palar river basin: The Palar river getting poisoned due to effluent discharge from the tanneries : A sad story
Palar river basin: Spring channels that pass through many villages carry the effluent load ultimately to the river
Palar river basin: An un-used irrigation tank due to tannery pollution in Gudimallur village
Palar river basin: Dying soil, dying crops, dying animals with impoverished woman - in the midst of perverted industrial expansion at the background: Village - Vannivedu
Palar river basin: An agricultural well with full of polluted water with no traces of cultivation around - the contribution of tanneries
Source: Central Pollution Control Board, 1991, Water quality data compiled from the monitoring wells in the Palar basin
The mainstay of Tamil Nadu and regarded as its granary
Main tributaries in Tamil Nadu
Bhavani – tanneries, dyeing and bleaching, chemicals, Municipal waste
Amaravathi – Textiles, dyeing and bleaching, paper, sugar, Municipal waste
Kalingarayan Canal - Tanneries, dyeing and bleaching
Noyyal – Dyeing and bleaching, Municipal waste
Kodaganaru – Tanneries, Municipal waste
Cauvery main river – Takes the entire load (from industries and urban waste) and takes further load as it travels further down
The Cauvery rises at Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri Range of Hill in the Western Ghats, presently in the Coorg district of the State of Karnataka, at an elevation of 4,400 ft.above mean sea level. The catchment area of entire Cauvery Basin is 81,155-sq. km.
Cauvery near Mettur – severely polluted due to the concentration of
More chemical and PVC industry – Chemplast is one of the companies which discharges 26 chemicals into the river through its effluent as found by an independent study
Noyyal is a tributary of the river cauvery;
The region which constitutes this river basin is traditionally a dry tract, which depended entirely on GW for all purposes;
Over the years, there has been a secular lowering of water table, resulting in GW depletion in many parts;
This region (Tiruppur town and its suburbs) has entered into the global map for its concentration of knit-wear industries; There are over 3000 knitting mills and over 800 dyeing and bleaching industries in this region;
A very high concentration of dyeing and bleaching units in this region not only consumes a huge quantity of fresh GW but also discharges them back into the Noyyal river;
The estimated quantity of water consumed by these units is about 100 million liters per day.
The Noyyal river looks pathetic with effluent flowing in it all through year;
The threat posed by this dam can be illustrated by what has happened in Feb’1997:
The O’dam constructed across the Noyyal river was overflowing with effluent endangering quite a number of villages around;
Eventually, at the time when there was no appreciable flow in the Cauvery river, the PWD opened the gates of the O’dam to let the polluted water flow down without any prior warning to the public;
The effect was devastating: considerable damage occurred to crops, animals, soils and GW; several hundred animals collapsed after drinking this water; several petitions were filed in the Court claming for compensation; Result - nil.
The severity of the situation was such that Government was forced to release 20,000 cusecs of water from Mettur with a view to reduce the pollution load in the cauvery even though it was a dry period.
One of the streams carrying effluent in the Orathapalayam dam constructed
across the Noyyal river
Noyyal river basin: A view of the polluted Orathapalayam dam which stores nothing but the effluent discharged by hundreds of dying and bleaching units in and around Tiruppur
Noyyal river basin: A small stream with colourful flow of effluent - poisoning the neighbourhood - both land groundwater
Noyyal river basin: Yet another view of the damned Orarthapalayam dam
Noyyal river basin: Young girls washing and bathing in the Orathapalayam dam’s polluted water: Not aware of the danger!!
Once cleaner water ways – now carries sewage and industrial effluent
Chennai waterways cleaning moves have been a gross failure although over 1000 crores of rupees have been spent so far
There are reported to be about 750 sewage and effluent outfalls into these waterways carrying over 700 mld of waste water - untreated – finally mixing with Bay of Bengal
The River Cooum, once a fresh water source is today a drainage course collecting surpluses of 75 small tanks of a minor basin. The length of the river is about 65 km, of which 18 km, fall within the Chennai city limits. This once fishing river & boat racing ground has borne the brunt of the city's unplanned explosion
Cooum river in a dry season full of polluted water discharged by
Chennai water Board (from ETP) and by a large number of industries --About 30 per cent of the untreated sewage gets into the Cooum river
Section of the Canal near RA Puram with MRTS – narrowed the canal to < 50 meters – carries at the moment nothing but sewage
The Buckingham Canal is a 422 KM long freshwater navigation canal running parallel to the Coromandal coast of South India from Vijayawada in AP to Chidambaram in TN. The canal connects most of the natural backwaters along the coast. It was constructed during the British period (started in 1806) and was considered an important waterway during the late nineteenth and the twentieth century.
It is believed to be partly responsible for reducing the recent tsunami shock in Chennai.
Cleaning of the Cooum river under way recently, THE HINDU SEP 29, 2011
Buckingham Canal is the most polluted of the three major waterways in the city with nearly 60 per cent of the estimated 55 million litres of untreated sewage being let into it daily, including by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
Adyar river which originates from the Chembarambakkam Lake in Kancheepuram, is one of the rivers which passes through Chennai,and joins the Bay of Bengal.
Adyar river at the mouth where it joins the Bay of Bengal
Adyar river with full of municipal sewage and effluent discharged by industries
Estimated industrial pollutant loadings discharged into major rivers in Tamilnadu ,
Kilograms per day
Source: Asian Development Bank, Tamilnadu Environmental Monitoring and Pollution Control, Final Report, Volume-II, June 1994
Source: Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, 1994
Is it impossible to sustain industrialization and urbanization development without compromising with our rivers and water resources?
On the contrary to what the neo-classical economists argue, why does the market turns out to be a mute spectator – contributing to more and more environmental and ecological damages rather than cleaning up the mess
We can’t bear if the ecology back fires!! Should we wait until such time?
What are the ways forward?
The role Pollution Control Boards
The role laws
Is PIL a solution?
If none of these work, what is the way out? Is there a deadlock?
Or it the curse of the democracy such as the which we have in India?
OR CAN WE RENOGOTIATE OUR DEMOCTRACY? IF YES, WHAT ARE THE WAYS?