Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rivers Undone



Puranas and literary works held it high as `Kanjimaanathi' (The Great River Kanji). It is interwoven with the history and culture and customs of the people belonging to Coimbatore district. It is none other than the river known today as Noyyal. The district Coimbatore through which Noyyal flows is a forefront region in Tamilnadu for agriculture and industries. People from parts of this region used to have trade tie with Romelace. Such places are called Vellalur and Sulur. Till date the townships situated on the banks of Noyyal are famous for trade growth. They are Tiruppur and Coimbatore.

Where does it start?

River Noyyal starts at Velliangiri Poondi in 40 km distance from Coimbatore at the eastern slopes of Wetern Ghats. Western Ghats and Palakad Canal are the source for the year- round mild climate prevailing in the district. Noyyal, adjoining with her a number of small water runs flows from Coimbatore through Palladam, Avinasi, Erode and Tharapuram and joins Great Kaveri at Karur of Thiruchy district. Together with her sisters Bhavani Sagar and Amaravathi, Noyyal is also considered to be a tributary of Great Kaveri.

How She was before 50 years?

Noyyal was too healthy until 50 years before. During South-West monsoon season every year, Noyyal used to be filled fully with water. At that times, people would bath in its pure water everywhere on its banks. Noyyal also used to get water from monthly rains. She provided water to several number of ponds and other water sheds. On the banks of Noyyal green species were seen at Vellalore, Ottapalayam, Irugore and Sulur. Every morning people would go in crowd to take bath in Noyyal water.

How Noyyal is today?

Today Noyyal gets only rare water South-West monsoon season rains. Her shape and beauty and water capacity have been diminished to unbelievable levels. The small amount of water which runs in Noyyal today smells worse and at many places there are seen only sands and wastes in the river. Her water is good for use only at a shorter distance from its source at Velliangiri Poondi. From lace>Coimbatorelace> till Tiruppur its water is rarely pure and under ground water level has also gone down due to this. The length of the river till Orathupalayam dam is 112 km. There are 19 dams across the river. There are 16 ponds spread in 3,200 km area on her banks. All these resources are now drained.

The poor condition of Noyyal affects agriculture done at 42,000sq acre lands. All the boring pumps laid on the banks of Noyyal have turned to be the depository of chemicalised water along with the fish resource of the rivers and ponds reduced to nothing.

Who is the culprit?

There are 830 dyeing industrial units at Tiruppur town and another 180 units at Coimbatore city. They are the culprit, ofcourse. They pour their waste waters unpurified in to Noyyal every day and night. This has made the once beautiful Noyyal in to a complete hell of dirt and smell. These industrial units let out about 1,00,000 litres of acidic waste water. Tiruppur municipal also adds at Noyyal its waste waters and dirt. This crime committed by the industries and the municipality have made the whole Noyyal environment poisonous. Water, land, agriculture, air and all parts of environment have turned to be dangerous and people just flee from many places on the banks of this age-old river.

The olden structures at the river bank

There are 23 dams built across Noyyal at 3,486 sq. km area. 23 canals were dug, each of 100 km length. 35 ponds were created at 4,500 acres of lands. Regularised irrigation facility was done at 19 acres of lands. All these structures were built before 1,300 years for doing agriculture at 30,000 acres of lands. There was no modern technology during those days. Giant machines were not used to create these structures. Committed humans created these by spending crores of work hours. A considerable number of these structures have been damaged or abused today by the greedy trade firms. Several water sheds have not been silted and several others have been occupied for building purposes and vanished.

After 1947 we built only one dam, the Orathupalayam dam across Noyyal. It was planned to be built during the regime chief minister Kamaraj during 50s and opened in 1992. It was built with an expenditure incurred for about Rs. 33 crores. This dam is full now. The water of this dam should be let out irrigation purpose. But there is a strange voice from the farmers that the water of Orathupalayam dam should not be opened and let out for irrigation. Why? Because the whole dam appears to be a dam of diseases due to dumping of wastes in it by heartless industries.

Some facts:

Palladam is a taluk at Coimbatore district. Its ground water level has gone down for 200 feet and the whole taluk area has been announced as a `black' area. 300 million litres of water is used every day at Coimbatore city. 99 percentage of this water comes back as filth. More several hundred millions of filthy water from all panchayat unions of Coimbatore district is also getting their refuge at Noyyal. Noyyal gets South-West monsoon rains only. In contrary she runs throughout the year. The water flows in her all round the year is not pure water, but waste water. The waste water has indeed raised underground water level at Coimbatore and Palladam taluks, but with acidic and chemicalised water.

Nilavarasu Kannan

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