CHENNAI: A thick oily brownish substance was found in Kosasthalaiyar river near Kaattukuppam village in Ennore on Monday evening, again after one month. Fishermen with visual evidence of the chemical discharge, suspect it to be effluents from nearby industries.
When Express visited the spot on Tuesday morning, remnants of the effluents were widely found between the stretch of Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) and Kaattukuppam village.
The discharge comes in the wake of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board inspecting the river last month, following a TNIE report on the issue. ‘‘At about 4:30 pm on Monday, there was a huge outflow of the substance in the river. In no time, major parts of the river turned brown, including our boat anchorage spot,’’ said M Raja (43), a fisherman in the village.
Fishermen tried to trace the source of the discharge, but they could not go beyond ETPS as water levels were low for boats to pass. Knowing that high tides may reduce the density of the pollutants, they captured visual evidence, which is available with Express. ‘‘Although the source is unknown yet, it appears that it is coming from a distance of two kilometers from Kaattukuppam village,’’ said Raja.
The frequent chemical discharge into the river has been a triple-threat to fishermen, affecting their livelihood, health and ecology. ‘‘We have protested constantly for a year against the discharge and have submitted petitions to the collector, but our efforts were in vain”, he said.
In the past couple of years, aquatic life in the river has come close to nil as fishermen have been pushed to catch polychaetes (poochi). ‘’Getting into the water in the normal situation itself causes skin lesions and rashes. It is impossible to think of catching worms if the discharge persists,’’ he added.
For about two decades now, several industries have polluted the river with fly ash, coolant water, and petrochemicals so much so that the river has died. ‘‘What is left in this place for us to live’’ asked R Anbu (42), a fisherman.
Previously, when the discharge occurred earlier this year, fishermen had identified the sources, which were the outlet pipes running beneath industries near Kaattukuppam. This time, the same chemical seems to be coming from a different place.
When contacted, a TNPCB official told Express that the district officials have been updated about the issue. ‘‘An Assistant Engineer will inspect the spot at the earliest and we will try to identify the source of discharge,’’ the official said.