Residents in and around Puttu Vikki near Aathupaalam in Coimbatore district were dismayed at the sight of white, cotton-like froth bubbling from the Noyyal River. The froth extended to a length of around 100 feet of the river. The trigger, activists say, is due to effluents discharged by caustic soda and fabric dyeing units located in the area.
Residents allege that despite environmental activists giving petitions to the concerned authorities regarding the issue, only a few people have been arrested and a few industries have been shut down.
On Wednesday, however, the trigger for Noyyal foaming was on account of the heavy rainfall in the area, which had caused the tributaries of the river to swell, causing flooding.
Speaking to TNM, Manikandan, an activist with the Kovai Kulangal Padhukapu Amaippu said, “The pollutants are settled in the river bed since this has been going on for a while. Now that the water inflow is high, the river has started foaming. This is dangerous to the groundwater table in the area and could cause asthma to the people who live there.”
Blaming the officials at the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for the mess, he said that their organisation has been giving petitions on this for the past three years but in vain.
“Two years ago, they (TNPCB officers) told us that the dyeing units are violating the rules. Last year they told us that they would serve notice to the polluting units but that’s all we have heard from them on this issue. The units are still around and thriving,” he said.
Manikandan also said that now that the problem has snowballed and caused panic among residents in the area, they hope the TN government would take action.
This inaction by the TNPCB officials comes despite a 2011 High Court order to shut down around 700 dyeing units in Tirupur and that the units maintain zero liquid discharge norms.
But the frothing of the Noyyal river is not new. In 2017, when the river frothed in Tirupur, Environment Minister KC Karuppannan blamed it on the residents. He had said that the river was polluted because of the soap used by the residents.