Rampant pollution killing Cauvery, say TN farmers

Untreated effluents released by textile dyeing units main culprits

Rampant pollution caused by untreated effluents let into the Cauvery river and its tributaries in Tamil Nadu by mainly textile dyeing units, has resulted in the virtual “death” of large stretches of the river system, according to a conference of farmers and water users.

Among the branch rivers of the Cauvery, “the Noyyal is already a dead river,” flush with raw, untreated effluents, while some other tributaries of the Cauvery are in the intensive care unit, the farmers’ conference held on Saturday, said in a resolution.

The conference held at Erode in the upper reaches of the Cauvery in Tamil Nadu, came down heavily on not just untreated industrial effluents directly let into the river at several places, but also untreated sewerage and other forms of waste water without any recycling done, leading to total pollution of the river.

Discussing a whole range of issues that has acquired a certain urgency and which “cannot be postponed any further if the Cauvery river system is to be saved”, the conference, presided by S Nallusamy, president of the lower Bhavani farmers welfare association, listed the major problems facing the ryots.

 Rampant sand mining in the river beds should be put an end to, the conference urged. “Tamil Nadu rolling out the red carpet for setting up different types of industries banned in the developed countries on environmental grounds is worrisome and is akin to ‘selling one’s eyes to buy a painting,’ “ it cautioned. Several of these industries have been permitted along the banks of the Cauvery and its branch rivers, the conference noted with concern in another resolution.

With the state facing a serious drought-like situation now, the conference urged that this was the right time to “de-silt” the major Stanley reservoir at Mettur, the gateway to the Cauvery irrigation system in Tamil Nadu, and other reservoirs, including the Lower Bhavani dam.

This activity could be done under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)’, the conference said. Manual labour was spared later for agriculture purposes when water would be released from Mettur in June. “To implement MGNREGS even after water is released for delta cultivation triggers a crisis for agriculture operations as a whole,” the conference said.

It also called upon the Centre and the basin states, including Karnataka, to take steps to divert some 200 tmcft of water from the Nethravathy to Hemavathy system, out of the 2,000 tmcft of river water that flows unutilised into the Arabian Sea annually. “If this can be done with the cooperation of all the other states, including Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, then the Cauvery problem can be solved once for all, and water for the lower riparian state of Tamil Nadu also ensured,” the farmers’ conference urged in another resolution.

Referring to the “unauthorised tapping” of water along the stretches of the Bhavani river, from the Bhavani Sagar dam right up to Bhavani town, for drinking water purposes, the conference said similar illegal tapping was taking place along the stretches of other branches also like the Amaravathy.

Such activities should be curbed by laying a dedicated pipeline for drinking water purposes, as it otherwise resulted in farmers in the Cauvery’s lower stretches suffering a lot, it said. With the Cauvery Management Board required to be set up under the Cauvery Tribunal’s final award now, the conference said the board should begin its functioning at the earliest as its task was now well cut out by the final order.

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