Modern times unkind to Amaravathi -- the Sangam-era river

One of the State’s longest rivers, the Amaravathi finds many mentions in the literary works of the Sangam era.

Published: 28th September 2021 05:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2021 05:37 AM   |  A+A-

Amaravathi river flowing through the Chettipalayam check dam in Karur | express

Express News Service

KARUR: One of the TN’s longest rivers, the Amaravathi finds many mentions in the literary works of the Sangam era. The modern times, however, haven’t been so kind to her. For centuries, Amaravathi, also known as Aanporunai, has been a vital source of irrigation for farmers of Tiruppur and Karur. It originates near the Manjampatti Valley and flows through the two districts for 282 km before its confluence with Cauvery at Thirumukkudalur; it is Cauvery’s longest tributary.

Over the past few decades, dyeing and other industries along its banks have been dumping massive amounts of effluent into  the river, poisoning its water. “The TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) level in the Amaravathi water crossed the 2,000 mark,” said Ramasamy, president of Amaravathi Irrigation and Effluent Affected Farmers’ Association. It is to be noted that even a TDS level of 500 is considered dangerous.  “We filed a case in the Madras High Court in 2003, after which several illegal dyeing units were shut down,” he added.

By that time, however, the damage had already been done. According to Ramasamy, swathes of farmland in Karur became barren because of the polluted river water. “Though the court ordered the government to provide a compensation of `6.36 crore to around 1,750 effluent-affected farmers in Karur, neither the district administration nor the TNPCB has done so,” he said.

When contacted, Karur TNPCB Officer Ravichandran told TNIE: “Although the court formed an authority and ordered the dyeing units to pay compensation to farmers, the authority was later dissolved after the formation of the NGT.  “Now, the NGT is dealing with all the disputes. As the dyeing units have been shut down for over a decade, both the district administration and the TNPCB are unable to get the compensation amount from them. The NGT have been maintaining status quo in this matter.”

To make matters worse for the river, Karur municipality is allegedly releasing its untreated sewage into the river, drawing flak from environmentalists. But Karur Municipality Engineer (ME) Nakheeran told TNIE they are constructing a drainage system to divert the sewage.  “Some are  smuggling sand and sinking bore-wells on the riverbed, exacerbating the situation. If these thugs are not controlled, the Amaravathi will soon be history,” said Sundar, a social activist from Karur. To this allegation, Amaravathi PWD Assistant Engineer Rajagopal said they conducted inspections of the riverbed in the summer and took action against water thieves.

It may be recalled that, based on a TNIE report titled ‘A Cooum in the making in Karur’ on November 27, 2020, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter and initiated proceedings against the polluters. In this series, TNIE looks at the problems plaguing the rivers flowing through TN.


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