September 6, 2019
The Bhavani is being misused by useless barrages, says Trust; wants City to look at alternative sources of water for year-long uninterrupted supply.
Mettupalayam town residents recently complained of getting brackish drinking water from the Bhavani river after the heavy early August rain. The Bhavani is a 217-km perennial river that originates from the Nilgiris, flows to Kerala and reverts back to Tamil Nadu.
M Su Mani, a member of Save Bhavani Trust, a three-year old organisation fighting to remove unwanted barrages on the river at Mettupalayam, tells The Covai Post, “We always got discoloured drinking water. This is not due to floods. Actually, the floods have diluted effluents, industrial sludge and other sediments in theBhavani, allowing free flow.
“The problem is due to two barrages which were constructed first at Omapalayam in 2011 and then at Samayapuram in 2014. The first dammed the polluted water. Its stated purpose was to elevate the height of water to 10 metres for power production. So this barrage now has stagnated water.
“The second, which is about 4 km away at Samayapuram, has blocked the incoming sweet water. The pump house between these two barrages supplies the leftover water to nearly 16 areas. Just imagine how much pollution is being caused by this water. This is why water-borne skin diseases have increased at Mettupalayam Government Hospital.”
He adds that cancer statistics shows that many patients from Vilamaruthur near Sathyamangalam along the Bhavani belt are visiting hospitals of Coimbatore.
“Even as our Trust campaigns for barrage removal, a third project at a cost of Rs.973 crore has been announced for the Pilloor dam. This is being done by calculating the expected population growth of Coimbatore till 2050 and plans to take 295 MLD (million litres/day) from Samayapuram. Pilloor is already supplying 106 MLD for 16 schemes with intermittent shortfalls. So the total availability of water is 401 MLD or 172.4 cu/sec. But this is available only for 196 days a year. What about the remaining 169 arid days? This is the data available with the Central Water Commission,” he says.
The Save Bhavani Trust petitioned Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami twice but did not get a reply. It then approached national media, prompting National Human Rights Commission to serve a notice to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.
Mani says, “The case is still being heard in court, but we are tired of the red tape. We are only asking that Coimbatore’s supply of water be drawn from Bhavanisagar and Moyar Valley which have plentiful rivers. While the Pilloor project has been sanctioned ignoring water statistics, the barrages have stagnated the Bhavani’s flow. It is heart rending to watch a river being misused like this.”