Activists concerned over continuing Palar pollution - The New Indian Express

Activists concerned over continuing Palar pollution

Published: 28th January 2013 08:53 AM

Last Updated: 28th January 2013 08:53 AM

The Palar River in Vellore has the dubious distinction of finding a place in the list of most polluted rivers in the world, according to Prof Janakarajan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies.

Speaking at a function, ‘Munneer Vizha’, organised by Poovulagin Nanbargal, a group of concerned citizens working towards the conservation and development of the environment, here on Saturday, he said, “A couple of years ago, when we carried out a research census of 28,000 wells in 46 villages in Vellore, we were shocked to find that not a single well had usable water, despite the fact that the groundwater table was quite high.”

Dr Janakarajan said that in India, the data on polluted rivers was conveniently not recorded by governments. “No government institution has data on river pollution. There is ‘convenient negligence’ behind not preparing such a database,” he said.

“In Vellore, where Palar River basin is located, there are 750 to 800 tanneries. Most of the tanneries used to let out untreated waste water directly into the River. Due to the pollution, the people who resided along the river were displaced. We can call those displaced people as ‘environmental refugees’,” he added.

“In Palar alone, there are 617 spring channels located. But due to the pollution, most of the channels disappeared,” he said.

Introducing the concept of Green Accounting in the calculation of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), he said, “In India, we only consider the output. To achieve the desired output, we exploit the environment, forests and rivers. But those expenses are not taken into account. The calculation of output and the environment cost put together as net output will show the true environmental conditions. Till date, the country does not follow this green accounting method and we should strive to introduce this at least in the near future.”

Marine researchers Orissa Balu, Prof Lal Mohan, water researcher K Varadharajan also spoke. Munneer Vizha was inaugurated by veteran CPI leader R Nallakannu and organic farming scientist Ko Nammaazhvar.  The day-long seminar focused on the multiple facets linked to water-related issues, including politics, culture, science and business.

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