Thoothukudi: Residents see red as effluent turns stream pink

The jungle stream, which meanders through Gomezpuram in Mapilaiyoorani village, has tuned pink beginning from the bridge crossing Mapilayoorani- Tharuvaikulam road.

Published: 28th January 2023 04:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2023 04:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Over a kilometre stretch of the Uppar Odai river stream has recently turned stark pink following unchecked dumping of industrial waste into the waterbody allegedly by private seafood preprocessing companies. Sources said this was a recurring issue in the area since competent authorities like the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) were remaining mute spectators to the contamination.

The jungle stream, which meanders through Gomezpuram in Mapilaiyoorani village, has tuned pink beginning from the bridge crossing Mapilayoorani- Tharuvaikulam road. Seafood processing units operate on the banks of the stream and allegedly release harmful effluent into the waterbody, which merges with the Gulf of Mannar. The stream also has patches of mangrove forest along its banks.

The private preprocessing units in the region peel, wash and package marine catch like crab, shrimp and octopus for export purposes. Activist Michael Anto Genius said these units continually discharge effluents into the stream and other ponds in the locality. “The issue was brought to the notice of the civic body, the district administration, and the TNPCB. However, the authorities took no action on our complaint. When a pond had changed colour near Rajapalayam earlier, the Ottapidaram MLA and Mapilaiyoorani Panchayat president inspected the site. Even then, no action ensued,” he added.

Residents in the area said no fish can be found in the stream due to the effluent discharge. “During rainy seasons, large quantities of wastes are let into the waterbody. The natural flow of the stream is also affected owing to the presence of thick thorny bushes,” they added.

After a TNPCB official noticed the discolouration of the pond in Rajapalayam during an inspection last October, the District Environmental Engineer of TNPCB sent a letter instructing the Block Development Officer of Thoothukudi panchayat union to initiate action.

As per the experts who inspected the Uppar Odai, the pink colouration is stark since the water has been remaining stagnant. “Many chemicals are permitted by the government for the purpose of washing marine products meant for export purposes. So, proper research needs to be held into the effects of each of these chemicals,” they opined.

When asked, TNPCB DE Sathiyaraj said the pollution control board had served show cause notice to the nearby seafood companies. District collector Dr K Senthil Raj told TNIE that the TNPCB official will inspect the watercourse and take samples for laboratory analysis. Also, the discharge from local plants will be assessed, he added.


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