Four years since they vowed to achieve Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) by adopting modern technologies and establishing Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs), tanneries in the district are yet to achieve ZLD even as they continue to pollute Palar river.
“None of the units is able to maintain the total dissolved solid (TDS) level at present,” said executive member of Vellore District Environment Monitoring Committee N Gajapathy citing the TNPCB’s report to VDPR’s application on January 28, 2013.
In the report, the TNPCB stated that “Amburtec CETP at Maligaithope is yet to commission the ZLDs to its full capacity and till now is discharging part of the partially treated trade effluent into Palar River.”
According to the Tami Nadu Government’s affidavit submitted before the SC last year, 20 to 25 per cent of the rejected water from the CETP in Maligaithope has TDS ranging from 4,500 to 18,000 mg/litre as against the prescribed norms of 2,100 mg per litre.
Stating that the CETPs and ETPs have entered an advanced stage of evaporator technology, the government in the affidavit said the ZLD would be attained by these units in the month of July 2012. Nevertheless, the CETPs and ETPs had failed to achieve ZLD.
An PCB official in Vaniyambadi division admitted that the CETP in Maligaithope is still letting out partially treated effluent into the riverbed. Â“We know several tanneries are illegally dumping the solid remains of the animal skins on several spots on the river bed,Â” said the officials and ignored the issue stating that it was the responsibility of the local administration to look into it.
The solid waste is deposited over several acres of land adjoining the Palar riverbed at Periyavarikkam remains as a solid evidence for the indiscriminate discharge of effluents till date.
“The tannery effluent from Amburtech-CETP is flowing like a stream into the Palar riverbed for more than six to seven years. During night hours, the effluent’s flow increases manifold,” said S Veerapathiran, a farmer and resident of Somalapuram.
He added that his 70 cent of agricultural land was completely polluted due to the effluent discharge. On several occasions, the effluent had overflowed into his land.
The Vaniyambadi Environ control System- CETP, Valayampet sector, is also releasing the effluent discharge into adjacent water bodies. “The CETP is letting out the water from the RO plant in the riverbed at Valayampet, Girisamuthiram, Marapattu and Vadacheri villages,” said Venkatesan, a member of the council of the Udayendram Panchayat.
Under section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, the TNPCB is empowered to issue closure orders, disconnect electricity and water connections to the units that failed to comply with the norms.
The department has not put this provision into use to stop the CETPs that continue to contaminate the environment. Rather, it has granted time extensions for CETPs for the last three to four years to achieve ZLD. Â“The officials failed to look into the plight of farmers and common men who are worst affected due to the pollution,Â” said president of Vellore District Palar River Protection Association Jamuna Thiagarajan.
Director of Amburtech Firdaus Ahmed denied that they discharge effluent in the open and said that they have achieved ZLD and also adopted Ultra Filtration to evaporate the reject particles from RO plants.