ERODE: Residents of RN Pudhur living near Sunambu Odai canal woke up to frothing in the water body coupled with unbearable stench on Saturday.
Citing that textile processing units and tanneries in the district continued to release effluent in water bodies taking advantage of lack of monitoring, the locals and activists have demanded a new flying squad be set up exclusively for night patrolling. They have also urged the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to fill the vacant posts in the district to tackle the shortage of staff.
According to activists, incidents of effluent release in water bodies took place at night thus violating the TNPCB's zero effluent discharge rule. Though officials conduct inspections at night once in a while, only regular monitoring can curtail such incidents. Polluted water from Sunambu Odai and Pitchakaranpallam Odai entered the Cauvery contaminating the river water as well, they said.
"It is the responsibility of the district administration and the TNPCB to monitor if the high court order on zero discharge system is followed. However, the TNPCB in Erode is reeling under a shortage of staff. Of the two posts of district environment engineer in the district, one has been vacant for more than one year. The assistant engineer post in Perundurai is also vacant. The vacancies impact the efficiency of the TNPCB," said Chinnasamy of CPI.
The TNPCB recently wrote to the Superintendent of Police seeking help to catch vehicles that transported sludge without any authorisation and dumped it in empty grounds and water bodies. However, a few days ago, both the TNPCB and police officials failed to seize a vehicle that was carrying dyed clothes that were washed in the Cauvery river. The TNPCB officials said they had no authority to seize the vehicle, while the police said they couldn't do so as there was no complaint. The violators took the vehicle away after the officials had left the spot.
"Farmers going to work in the fields in the early morning see the change in the colour of water in the water bodies on a regular basis. Though we report it, by the time the officials arrive, it becomes late to notice the change. Farmers and other residents frequently using the water have reported skin allergies. The pollution could be reduced only by ensuring strict action against violators and conducting regular inspections," said Manikandan, leader of a farmers' association.
TNPCB officials said that there was a flying squad in the district with two officers. They sought more manpower to tackle the problem.