NHRC issues notice to the Government of Tamil Nadu over hazardous water supply from the Bhavani river in Mettupalayam (23.01.2017)
New Delhi, 23rd January, 2017
The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that potable water supplied to 1.5 lakh residents from the Bhavani river in Mettupalayam is unfit for consumption. The residents of the area have been contracting skin diseases and also finding it difficult to stand by the odour of the river water. The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report are a matter of concern and indicative of violation of Right to Life and Health of the residents of the region. Potable water and sanitation are essential to realization of basic human rights. It is the duty of the State to provide necessary infrastructure so that the human rights of the people are not violated.
According to the media report, carried on the 16th January, 2017, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board has reported that the water is chemically not potable as the turbidity and iron values exceed permissible limits. The water is also bacteriologically unsafe due to the presence of faecal coliform, the source of which is human and animal excreta. Many industries, including the United Bleachers Limited and ITC Paper Mill are also reportedly discharging untreated water in the river.
Reportedly, the Bhavani river was flowing freely until year 2000. The problem started in the year 2001, when Erode unit of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board set up two barrages in the river at Samayapuram and Omapalayam to generate electricity. The project is, reportedly, generating low power than expected. The State Electricity Board has also not obtained 'No Objection Certificate' from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. After construction of the barrages, the water supply frequency has been reduced to four days from alternate days and the sewage water is also seen stagnating in the river.
The State Government has, reportedly, sanctioned a sum of Rs. 91.7 crore for an underground drainage project but presently, 10 MLD water from Bhavani river is supplied to Mettupalayam while 6-8 MLD sewage is discharged to the river.