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Eight tanneries face closure in Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has ordered the closure of eight of the 11 tanneries functioning at Sembattu and Gundur in the city for failing to rectify defects in their pre-treatment systems even after giving them enough time to comply with the norms. .

Tangedco isconnected power supply to eight tanneries on Friday after the TNPCB chairman issued the order, a board official said here on Saturday.

The tanneries were required to operate pre-treatment systems on their premises to treat the effluent before it was discharged to the common effluent treatment plant (CETP), which had to achieve zero liquid discharge (ZLD) status.

The TNPCB said action was taken following a long and due process after defects were noticed in the pre-treatment systems at the individual tanneries in November last year. “Show cause notices were issued and personal hearing was conducted during January and as requested by them, three months was given by the board. But the tanneries have not rectified the defects,” said A. Rengasamy, District Environmental Engineer, TNPCB, Tiruchi.

Lapses found

Lapses were found in the progress of installation of the ZLD system.

A directive was issued by the board under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, to achieve zero liquid discharge within a month. But no progress was noticed even after six months.

Tiruchi was once the largest processor of East India (EI) leather in the country, but many units had turned sick and their numbers had dwindled over the years owing to problems afflicting the industry, including complaints over pollution and the high export duty imposed on EI leather. The discharge of untreated effluents into open drains and irrigation canals from the tanneries had provoked many agitations by farmers and locals in the past.

Though the Tiruchi Tanners’ Association (TTA) initiated efforts in the early 1990s to set up a CETP, the facility set up at a cost of ₹2.80 crore at Thiruvalarchipatti was commissioned only in 2008. The CETP was to cater to eight tanneries that process, using vegetable extracts about 18 tonnes of raw skin and hides a day. However, V. S. M. Varis Mohideen, former secretary of TTA, said the tanneries were now operating at less than 50% of their capacity due to lack of orders.

Industry in crisis

The closure of the units, the tanners claimed, was ordered all of a sudden. “We were in the process of meeting the TNPCB directives. About 80% of the work on installation of the ZLD system has been completed and we are only asking for more time. The abrupt closure and disconnection of power will adversely affect us as leather processing is a continuous job,” said TTA president Mohamed Adam.


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