Resource and Scarcity have been good friends in our nation. Their contact has been more intimate in case of our chief resource, water. Without doubt, water is the prime need for human survival and development. Nature has been benevolent enough in providing us with adequate water. But the industrialization of the earth has detonated the valuable water resource to a large extent.
Tiruppur, a little town in TamilNadu is the centre of India's local cotton knitwear industry. Tiruppur, situated near Coimbatore which is "The Manchester of South India", is known by various names such as "Dollar City", "Knit City", "Cotton City" and mainly "History Centre". There are about 2000 production units manufacturing variety of goods such as vests, briefs, panties, tracks, suits, sweat shirts, pullovers, blouses, shirt blouses, leggings, pajamas, sportswear, beachwear shorts & woven garments for children, men and women. The finished products have a good market both in India and overseas. The direct and indirect of Knitwear export fetches revenue of Rs 30 billion per year which is the reflection of the quality of goods manufactured. A whole range of industrial units catering to ancillary functions such as manufacture of cartons, polythene bags, zips, buttons, tapes and other packing material has also spawned in a big way. Yet, at first glance, nothing about Tiruppur can make one believe that this town earns an annual $720 million in foreign exchange. But the tragic point is that the industrialization that made a town of Tiruppur has also destroyed the environmental and ecological balance of Tirippur. It is a fact that the Tiruppur environment is deteriorating because of industrialization and people from all the groups are accepting the fact that the ecosystem stability of the town is lost because of industrialization.
The main impact of this industrialization in Tiruppur is the pollution of Noyyal River. The Noyyal River has been transformed into an effluent discharge channel by the industries and its productive use is unimaginable, even in Utopia. Noyyal is now so terribly polluted that it easily gets mistaken for a huge multi-colored, half-dry gutter. The water is highly alkaline, devoid of dissolved oxygen and the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) value is very high, in the order of 7000ppm (The maximum permissible limit is 1500 ppm as per standards). On the other hand, direct discharge of effluents on the ground too has badly polluted and colored the ground water table in Tiruppur. It is not uncommon to see long queues of large plastic buckets and pots at any time of the day, lined in front of public hand pumps and bore wells, from which tired but persistent women pump out colored water of varying shades There is no authentic information about the practical use of Noyyal water for drinking, industry and irrigation purposes. Tiruppur Town, in sorry state of affairs imports water from Palladam, Mettupalayam and Coimbatore areas for its various purposes, in spite of possessing the river Noyyal. This is an evidential factor of the impact of industrialization of Trippur on the environment and ecological balance. In today's industrial era, the human race is suffering from great shortage of water. Therefore slowly the human race understands the need to revive these neglected water resources. Driven by environmental concerns and acute shortage of water, the Tiruppur Town is desperately aiming the revival of Noyyal river, but in vain.
In view of this environmental problem, the Government and the industrial people have set up effluent treatment plants (ETPs).There are about 300 individual effluent treatment plants (IETPs) ,and 8 common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) in Tiruppur. But their role has not been significant enough. Almost all the parameters are near the maximum permissible concentration or more. This is a curtain raiser that very little treatment is done in the treatment plants, be it CETPs or IETPs. Moreover these treatment plants do not even come near, why confirm to the effluent discharge standards for inland and surface waters as prescribed by IS:2490-1970. Dissolved Oxygen's absence suggests the prevailing of anaerobic conditions of the highly alkaline water body devoid of any acidity. Though there is notable difference in the color and pH level of the treated water, there is no considerable reduction in TDS, Chlorides and Sulphates values.
The treatment plants haven't justified their huge investment of Rs.50 crores. Moreover, the enormous quantity of waste water sludge generated by these CETPs is also an solid waste management problem. In short, the treatment plants haven't minimized the environmental problems, but have added to them.
The analysts believe that there are still traces of self purification capacity of the river, which may be enhanced by thinking upon on cleaner production and economically viable modern treatment methods. This is suggestive that action plan in the revival of the river can be done to enhance the little of the river and the process would not be too late.