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In Search of a Living River: Let us traverse through Tamil Nadu S. Janakarajan Madras Institute of Development Studies Chennai 600 020 [email protected] ac. in Presentation made at the India International Center New Delhi 7 th Dec 2011
A brief introduction: Rivers in India have carried the political, economic and social history of our country Today water resources in India are under great threat due to indiscriminate use, scarcity and pollution. This not only undermines the resource base but poses a severe threat to the very foundations of our society, culture and community’s sustenance. This is the context in which I shall discuss the dying or dead rivers of Tamil Nadu
Situation The problem of water pollution poses a great threat to basic human living. The ramification of pollution is indeed more severe in the less developed countries that are afflicted with chronic problems of • political instability • lack of political will • high level of illiteracy • unceasing poverty • increasing degree of urbanization • rapid Industrialization • lack of basic needs and basic infrastructure • high illiteracy and low level of awareness • women subordination • high degree of corruption at all levels • poor health care and poor social security system • high population density with poor rural and urban infrastructure • Most importantly, the looming climate change threat and its impact on water resources, agriculture and food security etc THE GROWING MENACE OF RIVER POLLUTION NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THIS CONTEXT
Problems with existing approach of data collection and dissemination Collect information on visible data very selectively - Such as all land details, rainfall, crop details, water, surface and GW, income and consumer expenditure, assets and liabilities, livestock etc There are certain data which are never given importance: Information relating to Pollution of river basins, Pollution levels of surface and groundwater Solid waste, Bio-medical waste, urban sewage, e-waste generation Floods and droughts – socio-economic losses - expenses incurred by way mitigation Can we neglect invisible data?
Andhra Pradesh 4 3 Karnataka 2 10 1 9 8 5 Kerala Major river basins of Tamil Nadu 6 7 Bay of Bengal 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Cauvery Ponnayar Palar Kosathalayar Vaipar & Gundar Thamaraparani Nambiar Vaigai Vellar & Manimuthar 10. Noyyal
Map of the Palar basin
Palar Total Catchment area- 17, 871 Sq km Originates Total from lenngth Nandhi hills 340 M K near Kolar – In TN Dist in it Karnataka travels a distance of 240 km Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu
Some facts about the Palar basin is considered the second rice bowl of the State next to Thanjavur, irrigated by tanks and wells (now both the rice bowls have been disfigured) Highly urbanized with flourishing rural-urban water market Very high concentration of tanneries; 75% of the tanneries in the State are concentrated in this basin, contributing to 30% of total leather exports of the country, earning Rs. 50 billion towards forex Tanneries are highly water intensive and polluting industries, generating about 38 mld of effluent with high TDS and chromium and some traces of cyanide Agriculture is very badly affected, decreased yield, abandoned wells, polluted surface and groundwater, acute drinking water problems, serious health problems, rapid decrease in ag. Employment and thousands of people have already left their villages
Extent of pollutants generation in two major tannery centers of the Palar basin Parameter Total pollution in Ranipet (KG/D) Total pollution load in Vaniyambadi (KG/D) TSS 26, 635 – 51, 980 17, 707 – 27, 135 TDS 92, 465 – 198, 246 82, 409 – 121, 103 BODS 13, 734 – 30, 292 7, 293 – 15, 565 COD 37, 054 – 78, 479 17, 474 – 34, 433 SULPHIDE 175 – 771 125 – 269 TOTAL CHROMIUM 859 - 3163 1, 085 – 2, 321 Source: Economic Analysis of Environmental Problems in Tanneries and Suggestions for Policy Action, a study supported by UNDP, Madras School of Economics, 1998
Yield of paddy in the affected and unaffected villages of the Palar basin, 1999 Villages No. GIA under of wells paddy by paddy per reporting wells well (acres) Total Production of paddy in KGs Yield per acre of GIA under well in KGs Yield of paddy per well in KGs Affected 56 villages (aggregate informatio n for four Villages) 57. 34 1. 02 35206 614 628 Unaffected 119 villages (aggregate informatio n for four Villages) 456. 24 3. 83 847, 125 1857 7118 Source: Janakarajan, S, 2006
Mitigation and regulatory measures in the Palar basin Public interest litigation and Supreme Court’s intervention through what is regarded as historic judgment Comprehensive failure of CETP TNPCB and its role – lack of effective monitoring and law enforcement mechanism
Palar river basin: A spring channel being used by the tanneries for discharging their deadly effluent: Find at the background the beautiful temple renovated to which `generous’ contributions came from tannery owners. Village: Gudimallur near Walajapet
Palar river basin: A overflowing spring channel in Vanninedu village with full of stinking and poisonous tannery effluent: A dying tradition due to the socalled modernity - Agricultural land groundwater have been polluted heavily besides losing an age old spring channel.
Palar river basin: A spring channel in Vannivedu village flowing colourfully with tannery effluent. A dying tradition!!
Palar river basin: Palar Anicut / Weir with stains of tannery pollutants.
Palar river basin: The Palar river getting poisoned due to effluent discharge from the tanneries : A sad story
Palar river basin: Spring channels that pass through many villages carry the effluent load ultimately to the river
Palar river basin: An un-used irrigation tank due to tannery pollution in Gudimallur village
Palar river basin: Dying soil, dying crops, dying animals with impoverished woman - in the midst of perverted industrial expansion at the background: Village - Vannivedu
Palar river basin: An agricultural well with full of polluted water with no traces of cultivation around - the contribution of tanneries
Palar river basin: A abandoned well with full of tannery pollutants
Palar river basin: An abandoned / polluted well : Village : Solur
Water quality of groundwater in the selected areas of the Palar basin Serial number of well stations Name of the well stations Average value during premonsoon (January-June) Average value during monsoon (July-December) EC TDS 1 Vaniyambadi 9740 5490 10978 6178 2 Valayampattu 13562 7471 12445 6762 3 Solur 15635 8712 13142 7387 4 Venkatasamudram 15650 8689 14357 7895 5 Periavarigam 17607 9867 17323 9698 6 Chinnavarigam 4807 2667 4933 2768 7 Ranipet 12825 7226 10140 5734 8 Vannivedu 4183 2372 3973 2297 Source: Central Pollution Control Board, 1991, Water quality data compiled from the monitoring wells in the Palar basin
PALAR ON TOP OF THE WORLD The Blacksmith Institute of New York has identified the ten most polluted rivers in the World in 1996 The Palar river got the rare distinction of earning a third place The criteria used for such identification are the following • The size of the affected population (over 3. 5 million) • Severity of the toxin or toxins involved • Impact of children’s health and development • Evidence of a clear pathway of contamination • Existing and reliable evidence of health impact Source: World’s Worst Polluted Rivers: The Worst Ten, Blacksmith Institute, New York, Sep 1996, WWW. BLACKSMITHINSTITUTE. ORG
Cauvery – the Inter state river The mainstay of Tamil Nadu and regarded as its granary Main tributaries in Tamil Nadu Bhavani – tanneries, dyeing and bleaching, chemicals, Municipal waste Amaravathi – Textiles, dyeing and bleaching, paper, sugar, Municipal waste Kalingarayan Canal - Tanneries, dyeing and bleaching Noyyal – Dyeing and bleaching, Municipal waste Kodaganaru – Tanneries, Municipal waste Cauvery main river – Takes the entire load (from industries and urban waste) and takes further load as it travels further down
CAUVERY – BASIC DETAILS The Cauvery rises at Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri Range of Hill in the Western Ghats, presently in the Coorg district of the State of Karnataka, at an elevation of 4, 400 ft. above mean sea level. The catchment area of entire Cauvery Basin is 81, 155 -sq. km. NAME OF THE CATCHMENT AREA BASIN STATE IN SQ. KMS. Karnataka 34, 273 Kerala 2, 866 Tamil nadu 43, 868 Karaikkal region of 148 Pondicherry Total 81, 155
Cauvery near Mettur – severely polluted due to the concentration of More chemical and PVC industry – Chemplast is one of the companies which discharges 26 chemicals into the river through its effluent as found by an independent study
Some basic details about the Noyyal basin Noyyal is a tributary of the river cauvery; The region which constitutes this river basin is traditionally a dry tract, which depended entirely on GW for all purposes; Over the years, there has been a secular lowering of water table, resulting in GW depletion in many parts; This region (Tiruppur town and its suburbs) has entered into the global map for its concentration of knit-wear industries; There are over 3000 knitting mills and over 800 dyeing and bleaching industries in this region; A very high concentration of dyeing and bleaching units in this region not only consumes a huge quantity of fresh GW but also discharges them back into the Noyyal river; The estimated quantity of water consumed by these units is about 100 million liters per day. The Noyyal river looks pathetic with effluent flowing in it all through year;
The threat posed by this dam can be illustrated by what has happened in Feb’ 1997: The O’dam constructed across the Noyyal river was overflowing with effluent endangering quite a number of villages around; Eventually, at the time when there was no appreciable flow in the Cauvery river, the PWD opened the gates of the O’dam to let the polluted water flow down without any prior warning to the public; The effect was devastating: considerable damage occurred to crops, animals, soils and GW; several hundred animals collapsed after drinking this water; several petitions were filed in the Court claming for compensation; Result - nil. The severity of the situation was such that Government was forced to release 20, 000 cusecs of water from Mettur with a view to reduce the pollution load in the cauvery even though it was a dry period.
One of the streams carrying effluent in the Orathapalayam dam constructed across the Noyyal river
Noyyal river basin: A view of the polluted Orathapalayam dam which stores nothing but the effluent discharged by hundreds of dying and bleaching units in and around Tiruppur
Noyyal river basin: A small stream with colourful flow of effluent - poisoning the neighbourhood - both land groundwater
Noyyal river basin: Yet another view of the damned Orarthapalayam dam
Noyyal river basin: Young girls washing and bathing in the Orathapalayam dam’s polluted water: Not aware of the danger!!
Chennai water ways Cooum river Adyar river Buckingham canal Once cleaner water ways – now carries sewage and industrial effluent Chennai waterways cleaning moves have been a gross failure although over 1000 crores of rupees have been spent so far There are reported to be about 750 sewage and effluent outfalls into these waterways carrying over 700 mld of waste water - untreated – finally mixing with Bay of Bengal
The River Cooum, once a fresh water source is today a drainage course collecting surpluses of 75 small tanks of a minor basin. The length of the river is about 65 km, of which 18 km, fall within the Chennai city limits. This once fishing river & boat racing ground has borne the brunt of the city's unplanned explosion Cooum river in a dry season full of polluted water discharged by Chennai water Board (from ETP) and by a large number of industries -About 30 per cent of the untreated sewage gets into the Cooum river
Section of the Canal near RA Puram with MRTS – narrowed the canal to < 50 meters – carries at the moment nothing but sewage The Buckingham Canal is a 422 KM long freshwater navigation canal running parallel to the Coromandal coast of South India from Vijayawada in AP to Chidambaram in TN. The canal connects most of the natural backwaters along the coast. It was constructed during the British period (started in 1806) and was considered an important waterway during the late nineteenth and the twentieth century. It is believed to be partly responsible for reducing the recent tsunami shock in Chennai.
Get an idea on the width of the Buckingham canal - 2005
Cooum river in 1925 Cleaning of the Cooum river under way recently, THE HINDU SEP 29, 2011 Buckingham Canal is the most polluted of the three major waterways in the city with nearly 60 per cent of the estimated 55 million litres of untreated sewage being let into it daily, including by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
Adyar river which originates from the Chembarambakkam Lake in Kancheepuram, is one of the rivers which passes through Chennai, and joins the Bay of Bengal. Adyar river at the mouth where it joins the Bay of Bengal Adyar river with full of municipal sewage and effluent discharged by industries
Adyar river as a flood carrier of Chennai
Paramete r Madras Palar Pannier Vellar Cauvery Vaigai Vaippar Tambraparani TSS 120446 29938 9339 32111 61402 15579 6382 20042 TDS 815245 400302 80059 130348 472357 126527 63813 145761 Chloride 192050 101434 18467 36712 116196 31173 14870 38255 Sulphide 15674 3818 1462 4636 9160 3033 1375 2018 Ammoni a. Cal Nitrogen 15461 3034 1906 2593 8163 1953 1422 2167 Phenol 131 383 4 5 119 29 3 10 Oil & Grease 4059 670 527 737 2660 584 378 818 BOD 51496 23496 7525 13775 38574 12303 5380 7316 COD 182189 70990 23511 41667 127346 37293 16926 27908 Copper 32 4 1 Na 78 Na Na 1 Zinc 5072 465 502 807 2623 481 354 682 Total Chromiu m 643 474 23 152 210 51 12 149 Nickel 102 93 24 5 116 7 Na Na Cyanide 19 22 4 2 15 3 Na Na Estimated industrial pollutant loadings discharged into major rivers in Tamilnadu , Kilograms per day Source: Asian Development Bank, Tamilnadu Environmental Monitoring and Pollution Control, Final Report, Volume-II, June 1994
Details regarding CETPs located in various parts of the State Name of the Type of Number of river basin industries CETPs Number of beneficiary units Quantity of Effluent (in kld) Cost of the Project (Rs. in million) Palar Tannery 22 847 37, 458 614 Noyyal Dyeing and bleaching 8 300 42, 350 279 Bhavani Dyeing and bleaching 4 545 2839 70 Amaravathi Dyeing and bleaching 8 548 14, 100 166 Others Dyeing, 14 bleaching, tannery, otels h and hospitals 576 14, 368 201 Source: Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, 1994
Some questions which seek answers from all of us Is it impossible to sustain industrialization and urbanization development without compromising with our rivers and water resources? On the contrary to what the neo-classical economists argue, why does the market turns out to be a mute spectator – contributing to more and more environmental and ecological damages rather than cleaning up the mess We can’t bear if the ecology back fires!! Should we wait until such time? What are the ways forward? The role Pollution Control Boards The role laws Is PIL a solution? If none of these work, what is the way out? Is there a deadlock? Or it the curse of the democracy such as the which we have in India? OR CAN WE RENOGOTIATE OUR DEMOCTRACY? IF YES, WHAT ARE THE WAYS?