Locals allege that the toxic foam is a result of untreated water being allowed into the stream from nearby factories.

Snow-white but scary Residents alarmed as enormous foam cloud covers stream near Mettur dam
news Environment Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 16:53

This alarming sight first played out in Bengaluru’s Bellandur lake – as wagon-loads of thick toxic foam covered parts of the lake’s surface, and even floated out into neighbouring areas. Then, we saw foam clouds flying from the surface of lakes onto the roads in Telangana’s Hyderabad. And now, this alarming phenomenon of foaming water bodies has found its way to Tamil Nadu.

An enormous cloud of white foam on a stream near the Mettur dam in Salem district was found by locals on Tuesday, and has led to considerable alarm in the area. The stream is an outlet for excess water from the Mettur dam, and connects back to river Cauvery, which is used for agriculture and drinking water in the district.

According to reports, this toxic foam is a result of untreated water being allowed into the stream from factories present near this location. 

Sridhar, a local resident, told Puthiya Thalaimurai, “The foam clouds are also floating into nearby villages, and affecting the residents.”

Locals point fingers at over 40 factories that produce fertilisers and other products that use hazardous chemicals. The most well-known of these are the Madras Aluminium Company (Malco) and plastics manufacturer Templast.

"It cannot be conclusively said that Templast or Malco are responsible for this pollution," said a senior offical from Salem district. "We have sent a team to team to investigate the matter. There is a SIDCO (Small Industries Development Corporation) area in that locality, and we have to ascertain where exactly the pollutants are coming from. We are closely following the issue," he added. 

Residents in Mettur allege that industries are directly releasing their chemical waste into this water body that connects to the Cauvery river. They further claim that even sewage is directly let into the water without treatment and contributes to the stench in the region.  

The residents are irked that an existing water body is being contaminated in such a manner, at a time when the state is reeling under severe drought and water scarcity.

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