It looks like the Bhavani river will soon go the Noyyal way.
Illegal dyeing units have been mushrooming on both sides of the river ever since similar units were forced to down their shutters last year on the Noyyal banks in Tirupur following a high court order. The illegal units coming up on the Bhavani shores, especially on the lower Bhavani basin, are releasing thousands of gallons of toxic effluents into the river, a major tributary of Cauvery. Besides the dyeing units, tanneries and paper factories also contribute to the pollution.
According to top sources in the pollution control department, 77 illegal dyeing units are now functioning on both sides of the river, mainly in Bhavani, Kadayampatti, Sengadu and Seruvarayanpalayam. Along with 49 authorised dyeing units they discharge toxic effluents directly into the river water, polluting both Bhavani and Cauvery and endangering the lives of more than six million people. According to farmer N Logusamy, the continuous dumping of untreated toxic effluents in the river is threatening to become an environmental disaster, on the verge of completely destroying Erode's agricultural sector. Several independent studies have already confirmed that Bhavani is fast becoming one of the most polluted rivers in the country.
According to A Nandakumar, a resident of Bhavani town, almost all the dyeing units which were closed down in Tirupur following the high court order have now found place on the shores of Bhavani. It seems Noyyal's gain has become Bhavani's headache. Farmers are leasing their river shore properties to dyeing units for anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 60,000 on a monthly basis. In addition, they get between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh as security deposit,'' he reveals.
We have stopped allowing domestic animals to bathe in the river. The water is highly polluted and it causes skin rashes. Even the ground water is polluted, affecting agricultural yield,'' says farmer T R Ganesan. However, the district administration and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board seem to be turning a blind eye to the issue. "We have been fighting polluting tanneries and paper factories of the area for years. Now, the dyeing units are also making our lives difficult. But the problem is growing bigger by the day due to inaction from the authorities," alleges Tamil Nadu Farmers Association leader T Subbu.