81. Ethical Implication
of Industrial Pollution on the Ground Water Quality At Tiruppur,
Tamil Nadu, India
C. Thomson Jacob, Jayapaul
Azariah, Paul Appasamy* & Gunnar Jacks**
Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Guindy campus, Chennai - 600 025
*Madras Institute of Developmental Studies, Adyar, Chennai - 600 020
**Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
- David F. Durenberger
The total amount of water on the earth is about 1400 million cubic kilometers. Of this, 97.5% is sea water. About 75% of the remaining fresh water is locked up as ice caps and glaciers, further about 24% is locked under ground as ground water (Franks, 1987). Ground water accounts for about 8 x 106 Km3 or about 0.6% of earth's total water resource (Michael, 1985). The contamination of ground water is insidious. It appears belatedly, once an aquifer is polluted it takes very long time to clean it up. It is preferable to guard against contamination of ground water in the first instance rather than to engage in long and expensive rehabilitation measures after the damage has been done (Sastry, 1988). The contamination of ground in India has been reported in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh (Rastogi and Gaumat 1990), Pali in Rajasthan (Gupta and Jain, 1992) as due to the location of dyeing and printing industries.
In Tamil Nadu there were about 17,000 polluting industries out of which about 700 were large units, 2200 medium ones and 14,000 small units. Out of these, 450 are large units, 1000 are medium units and 6,500 are small units which are in the red category or highly polluting industries (Hindu, 1997). Ground water contamination in Tamil Nadu was reported in Pallavaram, Chrompet, Ranipet, Pernampet, Vaniambadi and Tiruppur because of the location of tannery and textile industries. In the leather sector, the problem of dissolved solids persisted with several units recording 9,000 to 20,000 ppm. Similarly textile dyeing units in Tiruppur did not have a satisfactory arrangement to deal with TDS (Total dissolved solids) which stood at more than 10,000 ppm.
The present study was carried out in Tiruppur, Which is famous for its production of hosiery and knitting products. This textile city produces 90% of India's cotton knitwear. There are a total of 526 dyeing and 187 bleaching units, making a total of 713 water intensive industries thus placing severe demand on ground water resources (Tiruppur Dyers Association, 1995). The export of cotton textiles during 1996 reached an all time high of 11,080.36 crores against 8,399.70 crores in 1995 (HINDU, 1997). This small town has direct and indirect exports worth over 2000 crores. But the disposal of untreated waste water makes the surface water unfit for irrigation and also pollutes the ground water leading to environmental degradation (Appasamy, 1994).
Perception studies were
carried out to assess the conflict between different user groups
of people. The purpose of carrying out perception studies is to
identify the conflict between groups and to resolve the conflict
between them. The major concern with many ethical theories is
to determine what is good and what is right. In addition, it becomes
necessary if the ethical theories are to have any utility to strive
towards what has been determined to be good and right. Once we
decide that a system is correct then we should live by the conclusion
derived by the system (Pierce, 1982).
Method of Investigation
The present investigation was made by using adaptable method for field investigation of Environmental perception (Whyte, 1977). Interviewing was conducted by asking the people various questions about their attitudes, feelings and beliefs. People were interviewed to obtain their perception and opinions about the advantage and disadvantage of industrialization in Tiruppur. The respondents were encouraged to explain the situation in their own terms and their responses were recorded verbatim. After a few such interviews, the following hypotheses were proposed and individual responses were recorded.
I. ECOLOGICAL IMPACT
1. Noyyal River in Tiruppur is dead because of the inflow of Industrial effluent
2. Polluted ground water in Tiruppur can neither be used for industrial purposes nor for drinking.
3. The agricultural lands are converted into Industries.
II. HEALTH IMPACT
1. Polluted water brings water born diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, jaundice and allergies.
2. Usage of borewell waters leads to skin disorders like eczema.
3. Ginning, sizing and spinning of cotton leads to asthma.
III. SOCIAL IMPACT
1. Child labour is increasing in Tiruppur because of industrialization.
2. Cost of living is very high in Tiruppur
3. Infrastructural facilities
are not growing at the rate of development
Construction of the Questionnaire
The questionnaire was prepared
by referring to the environmental response inventory (ERI) of
Mckechnie (1974). The scaled questions were put in the form of
statements to which the respondents could show their degree of
agreement or disagreement with the scale value. The scale used
in the present study is a 5 point scale. The 5 points on the scale
have been graded as (1) Strongly disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Neutral,
(4) Agree, and (5) Strongly agree. The questionnaires were printed
both in English and in the regional language (Tamil). The question
was administered individually to different groups like industrialist,
workers, house wives, students, educationalist, and others.
Results and Discussion
I. Perception Study
The results of the perception
study showed that the industrialist, workers, house wives, students,
educationalist, and others agree with the fact (Table 1) that
they are the group which pollute the ecosystem for their greediness.
However it is surprising that they are still committing the same
mistake of exploiting the nature with out any concern for the
future generation. This attitude is ethically wrong.
i. Ecological Impact
(a) Ground Water Pollution
The growth of industries
and increased volume of industrial waste effluent, have led to
the pollution of ground water in Tiruppur. It is significant to
note that the level of certain physico-chemical parameters like
EC, TSS, TDS, Cl-, SO4, BOD, COD exceeded
the permissible level prescribed by BIS (1992) and WHO (1992)
standards set for drinking water. The ground water is so contaminated
that the industries themselves cannot use the local sources and
they are forced to purchase water from outside. Hence both the
households and the industrialists have been purchasing water
for their daily need. According to Tiruppur Exporters Association,
each processing unit spends about Rs. 1,00,000 every month on
the purchase of water from outside Tiruppur. This leads to over
exploitation of water as a natural resource beside ecological
degradation of Tiruppur (Padmanabhan, 1994).
Table 1: Percentage Of
Acceptance In Each Group
|Hypothesis (%)||Ecological impact||Health impact||Social impact|
Table 2: Comparison of
ground water quality in Tiruppur with reference to drinking water
|Sl. No.||Parameter||Permissible limit (IS)||WHO
|2||Dissolved Solids (mg/l)||2000||1000||10010||11994||6029|
|5||Chlorides as (mg/l)||1000||250||3218||4527||3006|
|7||Hardness as CaCO3 (mg/l)||600||-||689||826||689|
|8||Calcium as Ca (mg/l)||200||-||323||303||360|
|9||Phenolic Cpds (mg/l)||0.002||-||0.06||Nil||Nil|
RG1 - Riverine ground water DG1 - Industrial bore well
DG2 - Industrial dug well
BIS - Indian Standards for drinking water
(b) Agricultural Impact
The accumulation of dyes and salts in the ground water causes immense hardship to the farmers, having their lands close to the drainage water courses. Increased salinity has led to the accumulation of salts in surface as well as in ground water. Jacks et al., (1994) have pointed out that the discharge of chemicals in Tiruppur town, makes the ground water and surface water unsuitable for irrigation and domestic use. The high salt content (Table 2) and the dominant sodium ions rendered it unsuitable for irrigation, due to the exchange of Na+ in the soil zone, with Ca+ during the percolation of industrial effluent.
The textile industrial discharge
eventually end up in the Orathupalayam Dam. The dam was constructed
to arrest flash floods and was designed to irrigate 20,000 hectares
of land. It's water is highly brackish (7000 mg/l TDS) (Jacks
et al., 1994). Farmers reported that the water released
from the dam damages the agricultural yield and makes the crop
wither and die. The ground water quality in its vicinity, has
resulted in the damage of the agricultural crops and caused skin
disease, in those who used the ground water for bathing (Prabhakaran,
1994). As a result, farmers are prone to take legal action for
damage to yields.
(c) Impact on Animals
Padmanabhan (1994) reported
that the ground water resources are gradually depleting in Tiruppur
because of continuous pumping. The contamination of well water
and surface water by the indiscriminate discharge of effluent
from dyeing and bleaching industries, is affecting, in a big way,
the aquatic life in many places. The colouration of ground water
and the large scale death of fish at many water bodies seem to
justify the environmentalists contention that barring a few exceptions
the industries do not take this matter seriously. "The Indian
law on environment was "Contemporary" but suffered in
implementation because of political expediency and administrative
leniency". Even government shows less concern towards the
conservation of the ecology of this area . The chief doctor in
Tiruppur Government Veterinary hospital has stated that out of
the total number of reported cases of cattle, pet animals, horses
etc. for various complaints, 15% may be due to drinking polluted
water of River Noyyal.
ii. Impact On Health
There is no life without
water, but the polluted water poses danger to human life which
it is supposed to support. It is estimated that the drinking water
carrying disease causing agents kills five million babies annually
and makes another one sixth of the world population ill (Jackson
et al., 1986). The health report from the Tiruppur
municipality (Table 3) indicated the fact that the health of the
people in Tiruppur was affected because of industrialization resulting
in respiratory disease, diabetes, diarrhoea, jaundice, dysentery
Table 3: Health Statistics
|Cause Of Death|
|1. Heart Disease||110||143||139||229||165||48||157||167||97||164|
The water borne diseases
and other diseases are prevalent among poor people. Since the
public water supply is limited, the poor people are depending
on the ground water available in the polluted area for their daily
use. The water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid
were prevalent from the year 1984-1993. The Medical Practitioners
in Tiruppur revealed that a number of people especially from the
lower socio economic strata experience the ill-effects of environmental
pollution in Tiruppur. According to them the ground water pollution
may be the cause for diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, jaundice, and
other forms of allergies. Respiratory diseases are caused due
to allergy and pollution, since Tiruppur is an industrial city
dirt from industries and also from vehicular emission might be
the cause of all health problem.
iii. Social Impact
The perception study showed
that all the groups indicated the acceptance of increasing Child
labour in Tiruppur. Recent study in India on the impact of child
labour on industries showed that children are paid less and also
put to more hours of work. The children surveyed gave clear indications
of a marked disparity in wages. The highest paid child took home
about Rs.30 a day and most of them spend their childhood earning
a mere Rs.5 to 10 or even less a day. This would have adverse
impact on the markets especially with increasing global concern,
unless there is a strict legislation banning child labour in all
forms. The small hands would continue to keep turning the wheel
of the economy (HINDU, 1997).
The protection and management of ground water, one of the most valuable natural resources, is emerging as a major public concern in India. The present study clearly shows that the ground water samples studied in Tiruppur do not meet the drinking water standards. The water resources of Tiruppur have been depleted because of contamination by wastes. Once ground water is contaminated it is difficult to restore it to its initial quality. This calls for proper treatment, disposal and management of wastes. But the industrialists who are responsible for the deterioration of ground water purity have not initiated schemes to treat or manage the wastes because they lack social consciousness. Industrialists should be aware of the responsibility they have assumed for their chosen "lifeline".
The new economic policy has enhanced the export and import of goods in India. This policy which is supposed to enhance the growth of Indian economy, also increases the growth of industries such as textiles. It would not be ethical to sacrifice the future in the interest of the future generation to benefit the present. Rapid growth ultimately may lead to the degradation of environmental quality in a town like Tiruppur. The result of the present study reinforces the concept that indiscriminate use of the natural resources for the production of consumer items for economic gain is unethical. A survey conducted to obtain the public opinion on the theme of economy vs. ecology has shown that there is a conflict of interest between the consumer, common man and the industrialist.
A field survey conducted in Tiruppur revealed that the ground water quality in the Tiruppur is highly polluted. Unplanned growth of industries are responsible for the rapid deterioration of the environment of Tiruppur. Industrialists in Tiruppur are bothered only about the economical development and not about the health of the ecosystem. Unemployed youngsters are strongly attracted towards Tiruppur, which increases the population density and upsets the ecobalance of Tiruppur.
The improper management of industries has resulted in poisoning of ground water and soil. It has also led to the vanishing of the floral and faunal population. Ecorestoration of Tiruppur should be attempted through some green technology and pollution control measures. The present study suggests that after the textile effluent is treated initially using chemical methods to reduce the TDS concentration, (such as alum, ferrous sulphate, and poly-electrolytes) it should be followed by biological methods to reduce the colour, BOD and COD. Effective collection, treatment and disposal of industrial wastes can help to protect the ecosystem and ensure the sustainable development of Tiruppur.
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