Thoothukudi: Untreated industrial effluents turn a pond pink; action sought against polluting units

Workers at the seafood manufacturing units said they use chemicals to wash shrimp and octopuses before packing them for export purposes.

Published: 18th October 2022 04:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2022 04:24 PM   |  A+A-

A view of the polluted pond in Rajapalayam along the Thoothukudi coast. People demand action against the polluting units. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: It's bizarre, but a pond in Rajapalayam along the Thoothukudi coast has turned completely pink in colour allegedly after untreated industrial effluents were clandestinely let into it. Local residents have urged the district administration to identify the polluting units and prosecute them.

The pond spanning over 5-10 acres beside the road to Mottakopuram was once used as a dump yard and is part of the densely-populated Mappilaiyoorani village panchayat. Mappilaiyoorani village, located close to Thoothukudi corporation limits, houses several seafood pre-processing companies, dry-fish processing units, conch exporting firms and salt manufacturing industries. Following opposition from the locals, the civic body had previously stopped dumping waste in the pond area.

The waterbody is almost 10 feet deep and is recharged entirely by rain. The recent colour change was not just noticed at this pond, but also in the stagnant water pool in the low-lying area behind the dry fish processing unit near Mottakopuram. This polluted waterbody is located just 500 metres away from the Gulf of Mannar, a renowned marine biosphere and a national park.

Activist Michael Anto Geenious suspects that seafood processing companies discharged effluents into the pond. "If this goes unchecked, the effluents will seep into the region's groundwater table. As salt pans here use borewells for their water needs, continuous discharge of untreated effluents may contaminate the salt production in addition to polluting the environment," he added.

Requesting anonymity, some workers at the seafood manufacturing units said they use chemicals to wash shrimp and octopuses before packing them for export purposes. They added that they get sores on their fingers and skin allergies after long exposure to such chemicals.

According to a senior official of a fish export monitoring agency, the colour change of stagnant water may be resultant of either plankton crash caused by a spike in nitrogen, carbon and oxygen levels, or eutrophication which increases carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen levels along with excess growth of plankton. "The chemicals used for bleaching shrimps are organic and not hazardous," he added.

Locals said the pond area becomes deserted during the night hours and that's when the untreated effluents are discharged into the water body. "The units also release liquid industrial effluents into nearby Upparu stream during rainy season expecting the heavy water flow to wash off the pollutants quickly," they added. When contacted, civic body officials assured to identify the polluters and prevent untreated effluent discharge.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) District Environment Engineer Sathiyaraj said the pink colour change could have been caused by one of many factors. "However, we will investigate the incident and penalise the civic bodies if it is found that wastes were dumped in the waterbody," he said.

India Matters


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