Tamil Nadu textile city Tirupur, which has nearly 720 dyeing units, is ranked topmost in terms of generating hazardous waste.
According to a study commissioned by the state's pollution watchdog, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, an estimated 8,33,365.75 tons of hazardous waste is generated every year in Tirupur.
Tirupur, referred to as the Textile Valley of India, discharges nearly 100 million litres of effluent water containing bleaching powder, sulphonic dyes, chemicals and other inorganic catalysts. These are dumped into the Noyyal River or in the open wasteland.
Kalidass, an environmentalist, says: 'The agricultural lands will slowly become desert because of this sludge. Sludge will kill all the microorganisms in the earth. They will also contaminate water sources in the surroundings.'
Environmentalists concerned over the deteriorating condition seek a scientific solution.
'The entire Tirupur depends on Bhawani River, which is just over 100 kilometres from the textile city. The city's ground water has been contaminated by the hazardous waste. We should immediately find a solution to solve this problem, otherwise, not only Tirupur but this contamination will spread over to nearby areas as well,' says Kalidass.
The discharge of untreated effluent has already damaged over 80,000 acres of farmland along the Noyyal River. It has also brought a decline in the yield of crops like turmeric and bananas.
Moreover, the discharge of effluents has contaminated groundwater along the river.
The Tamil Nadu farmers have incurred huge looses due to contaminated water. Now, the Tamil Nadu Farmers' Association (TNFA) is awaiting a Chennai High Court order on the issue.
'We have incurred losses in crores of rupees due to polluted water and our groundwater has been contaminated. There is a question mark for our next generation farmers. We are now waiting for a good judgement from the Chennai High Court and if we are not happy with the judgement, we will stage a massive protest,' said Kandasamy, TNFA Secretary.
Meanwhile, about a hundred dyeing units have been closed down, as they failed
to meet the standards fixed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
The waste treated water let out into the nearby rivers is free of only the coloured suspension and continues to carry a large amount of invisible dissolved materials.
According to A Thangapandian, TNPCB Divisional Engineer: 'All the units have installed a system, which is called pre-treatment system. All dyeing and bleaching units remove only colour and uncoloured treated water is let out. But in the treated water the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) still remain in large amounts. This is the main problem.'
Another 500 units have been directed by the court to streamline their units as per environmental norms by the end of this month.
According to a study by the United States Agency for International Development, India's thriving industry and rapid economic growth account for much of pollution. This costs the country an estimated 9.7 billion dollars annually in environmental damage.