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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

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Presentation on theme: "In Search of a Living River: Let us traverse through Tamil Nadu S.Janakarajan Madras Institute of Development Studies Chennai 600 020"— Presentation transcript:

1 In Search of a Living River: Let us traverse through Tamil Nadu S.Janakarajan Madras Institute of Development Studies Chennai 600 020 Presentation made at the India International Center New Delhi 7 th Dec 2011

2 A brief introduction : 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

3 Situation The problem of water pollution poses a great threat to basic human living. The ramification of pollution is indeed more severe in the less developed countries that are afflicted with chronic problems of political instability lack of political will high level of illiteracy unceasing poverty increasing degree of urbanization rapid Industrialization lack of basic needs and basic infrastructure high illiteracy and low level of awareness women subordination high degree of corruption at all levels poor health care and poor social security system high population density with poor rural and urban infrastructure Most importantly, the looming climate change threat and its impact on water resources, agriculture and food security etc THE GROWING MENACE OF RIVER POLLUTION NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THIS CONTEXT

4 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?

5 4 3 2 1 10 9 8 5 6 7 1.Cauvery 2.Ponnayar 3.Palar 4.Kosathalayar 5.Vaipar & Gundar 6.Thamaraparani 7.Nambiar 8.Vaigai 9.Vellar & Manimuthar 10.Noyyal Major river basins of Tamil Nadu Andhra Pradesh Karnataka Kerala Bay of Bengal

6 Map of the Palar basin

7 Palar Total Catchment area- 17,871 Sq km Originates from Nandhi hills near Kolar Dist in Karnataka Total lenngth 340 KM – In TN it travels a distance of 240 km Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu

8 Some facts about the Palar basin Palar 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 market Very 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 forex Tanneries 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

9 ParameterTotal pollution in Ranipet (KG/D) Total pollution load in Vaniyambadi (KG/D) TSS26,635 – 51,98017,707 – 27,135 TDS92,465 – 198,24682,409 – 121,103 BODS13,734 – 30,2927,293 – 15,565 COD37,054 – 78,47917,474 – 34,433 SULPHIDE175 – 771125 – 269 TOTAL CHROMIUM859 - 31631,085 – 2,321 Source: Economic Analysis of Environmental Problems in Tanneries and Suggestions for Policy Action, a study supported by UNDP, Madras School of Economics, 1998 Extent of pollutants generation in two major tannery centers of the Palar basin

10 VillagesNo. of wells reporting GIA under paddy by wells (acres) GIA under paddy per well (acres) Total Production of paddy in KGs Yield per acre of GIA under well in KGs Yield of paddy per well in KGs Affected villages (aggregate informatio n for four Villages) 5657.341.0235206614628 Unaffected villages (aggregate informatio n for four Villages) 119456.243.83847,12518577118 Yield of paddy in the affected and unaffected villages of the Palar basin, 1999 Source: Janakarajan, S, 2006

11 Mitigation and regulatory measures in the Palar basin 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

12 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

13 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.

14 Palar river basin: A spring channel in Vannivedu village flowing colourfully with tannery effluent. A dying tradition!!

15 Palar river basin: Palar Anicut / Weir with stains of tannery pollutants.

16 Palar river basin: The Palar river getting poisoned due to effluent discharge from the tanneries : A sad story

17 Palar river basin: Spring channels that pass through many villages carry the effluent load ultimately to the river

18 Palar river basin: An un-used irrigation tank due to tannery pollution in Gudimallur village

19 Palar river basin: Dying soil, dying crops, dying animals with impoverished woman - in the midst of perverted industrial expansion at the background: Village - Vannivedu

20 Palar river basin: An agricultural well with full of polluted water with no traces of cultivation around - the contribution of tanneries

21 Palar river basin: A abandoned well with full of tannery pollutants

22 Palar river basin: An abandoned / polluted well : Village : Solur

23 Serial number of well stations Name of the well stationsAverage value during pre- monsoon (January-June) Average value during monsoon (July-December) ECTDSECTDS 1Vaniyambadi97405490109786178 2Valayampattu135627471124456762 3Solur156358712131427387 4Venkatasamudram156508689143577895 5Periavarigam176079867173239698 6Chinnavarigam4807266749332768 7Ranipet128257226101405734 8Vannivedu4183237239732297 Source: Central Pollution Control Board, 1991, Water quality data compiled from the monitoring wells in the Palar basin Water quality of groundwater in the selected areas of the Palar basin

24 PALAR ON TOP OF THE WORLD The Blacksmith Institute of New York has identified the ten most polluted rivers in the World in 1996 The Palar river got the rare distinction of earning a third place The criteria used for such identification are the following The size of the affected population (over 3.5 million) Severity of the toxin or toxins involved Impact of children’s health and development Evidence of a clear pathway of contamination Existing and reliable evidence of health impact Source: World’s Worst Polluted Rivers: The Worst Ten, Blacksmith Institute, New York, Sep 1996, WWW.BLACKSMITHINSTITUTE.ORGWWW.BLACKSMITHINSTITUTE.ORG

25 Cauvery – the Inter state river 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


27 NAME OF THE BASIN STATE CATCHMENT AREA IN SQ.KMS. Karnataka34,273 Kerala2,866 Tamil nadu43,868 Karaikkal region of Pondicherry 148 Total81,155 CAUVERY – BASIC DETAILS 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.

28 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


30 Some basic details about the Noyyal basin 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;

31 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.

32 One of the streams carrying effluent in the Orathapalayam dam constructed across the Noyyal river

33 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

34 Noyyal river basin: A small stream with colourful flow of effluent - poisoning the neighbourhood - both land groundwater

35 Noyyal river basin: Yet another view of the damned Orarthapalayam dam

36 Noyyal river basin: Young girls washing and bathing in the Orathapalayam dam’s polluted water: Not aware of the danger!!

37 Chennai water ways Cooum river Adyar river Buckingham canal 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

38 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 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

39 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.

40 Get an idea on the width of the Buckingham canal - 2005

41 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. Cooum river in 1925

42 Adyar river at the mouth where it joins the Bay of Bengal 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 with full of municipal sewage and effluent discharged by industries

43 Adyar river as a flood carrier of Chennai

44 Paramete r MadrasPalarPannierVellarCauveryVaigaiVaipparTambra- parani TSS120446299389339321116140215579638220042 TDS8152454003028005913034847235712652763813145761 Chloride1920501014341846736712116196311731487038255 Sulphide156743818146246369160303313752018 Ammoni a- Cal Nitrogen 154613034190625938163195314222167 Phenol1313834511929310 Oil & Grease 40596705277372660584378818 BOD5149623496752513775385741230353807316 COD182189709902351141667127346372931692627908 Copper3241Na78Na 1 Zinc50724655028072623481354682 Total Chromiu m 643474231522105112149 Nickel102932451167Na Cyanide192242153Na Source: Asian Development Bank, Tamilnadu Environmental Monitoring and Pollution Control, Final Report, Volume-II, June 1994 Estimated industrial pollutant loadings discharged into major rivers in Tamilnadu, Kilograms per day

45 Name of the river basin Type of industries Number of CETPs Number of beneficiary units Quantity of Effluent (in kld) Cost of the Project (Rs. in million) PalarTannery2284737,458614 NoyyalDyeing and bleaching 830042,350279 BhavaniDyeing and bleaching 4545283970 AmaravathiDyeing and bleaching 854814,100166 OthersDyeing, bleaching, tannery, hotels and hospitals 1457614,368201 Source: Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, 1994 Details regarding CETPs located in various parts of the State

46 Some questions which seek answers from all of us 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?

47 Thank you

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