Toxic foam spilling out of lakes is not a new phenomenon. It’s happened in multiple locations, and happened in Noyyal River in September. Toxic foam began to spill in Noyyal River in Tirupur in September, but this time it in the Coimbatore district.
On Wednesday, residents of Ravathur woke up to the scene of foam spilling out which is not only affecting the drinking water, but also the crops in the area.
According to the residents, the presence of spilling foam in the river starts from Puttuvikki area in Coimbatore. The foam starts about 15km from Ravathur, and increases as it reaches Ravathur.
Speaking to TNM, Shanmughasundaram, a farmer and a resident of Ravathur village said that he has been farming for the last 50 years.
“I have been farming here for the last 50 years. Chemicals started to mix in the Noyyal river from 1999 onwards. The water that comes to our homes also have chemicals mixed with it. Now, it’s also harming our crops also. Our trees are getting diseases. No one from the agriculture department comes here. It will be good if there was some filter to the water that reaches our houses,” he said.
Environment activist Mac Mohan believes that the government is not doing anything and that they need to install affluent or sewage treatment plants soon.
“It is because of soapy chemicals in water that froth is forming. One cannot pinpoint a chemical in the water. We have to find the source from where the chemical is mixing in the water. It can only be stopped by putting an affluent or sewage treatment plan. For a private source, they have to install affluent treatment plant and if it is from a local body, then a sewage treatment plant has to be installed,” he said.
However, he claimed that the chemicals in the river could be also because of dyeing industries. “It could be from the dyeing industries cloth is bleached and dyed in the garment industry, for which they use this kind of soapy chemicals,” he said.
He added that some farmers have no other option but to use this water. “Some of the farmers are left with no other option but to use this water. Otherwise, their crops will die,” he said.
Speaking about the Noyyal River, he said, “This river mainly starts from the Western Ghats. Water flow increases only in the rainy season, and it reaches till the Cauvery. However, usually it does not even reach Perur, which is 10kms from Coimbatore. The river dries out before that.”
Sewage created in Coimbatore is 200 Million Litres Per Day (MLD), he said. “The sewage treatment plant has a capacity of 100 MLD. Rest of the water is untreated, there are other local bodies along the river which also do not have sewage treatment plants,” said Mac Mohan.
However, activists also claim that there is no enforcement mechanism to keep a check on the sewage that is let out into the river.
“TNPCB does not have enough manpower. They come to know about the problems only once people start complaining. Encroachment is also a big problem. Sewage plants can be installed by TNPCB or local bodies, but there have not been any elections till now,” Mac Mohan said.