VELLORE: The Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum (Forum)has once more called for the closure of tanneries across the State citing health hazards and ecological degradation with tanneries flouting the Supreme Court directive.
Honorary secretary of the forum, P S Subrahmanian, recalled that the full bench of the Supreme court in response to the writ petition filed by the Forum in 1991 seeking redress for the pollution caused by tanneries to the Palar River, farmlands and endangering the health of the people directed the tanneries to take measures to prevent pollution. Despite this and several interim orders from the apex court the tanneries inVellore, Trichy, Dindigul, Erode, Kancheepuram and Chennai districts have not complied with the directions of the Supreme Court leading to continued pollution of Palar River and other numerous lakes, ponds, wells and otwater sources, besides causing heavy damage to the farmlands and negatively affecting the health of people.
Referring to an observation made by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Research Centre in Vellore, he pointed out that the centre had described the tannery belt as a hazardous environment and people in tannery belts in the district suffer from several health problems. A recent report by the Comptroller Auditor General stated that the quality of potable water has deteriorated alarmingly.
Subrahmanian said that the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu had admitted in the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court as against the permissible level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) discharged from the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) is 2,100 particles per million (ppm) it was found to be in the range of 4,500 ppm to 18,000 ppm. He said that the forum was of the opinion that tannery effluents containing more than 175 chemicals including chromium and other acids can never be treated at all. Under such circumstances, Subrahmanian said that the closure of all tanneries in Vellore and other places was the only way to prevent further damage to the environment and the people.