Kamarajar Port near Ennore saw massive 251 tonne oil spill when two tankers collided against each other in 2017. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

Polluted Kosasthalaiyar

The 136 km long Kosasthalaiyar river is the major water source for Chennai, Thiruvallur and a few North Arcot taluks. The river originates from Andhra Pradesh, flowing across Tamil Nadu and draining into the sea at Ennore creek. The river enters the Chennai metropolitan area as Cooum river, one of the most polluted water bodies in the district.

Kosasthalaiyar was reported to be “more polluted than industrial effluents”, according to a study conducted by the National Green Tribunal in December 2017. Of the total 20 samples taken along the area, all five samples from Kosasthalaiyar contained higher than permissible levels of lead, mercury and arsenic.

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Coal fly ash contaminating the Kosasthalaiyar water, altering the hydrology and affecting the potability of the water. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

 

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Polluted Kosasthalaiyar contains mercury, lead and arsenic above the standard levels for discharge of industrial effluents into inland water. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

 

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With Ennore power plant in the backdrop, the fishermen in the area are struggling to make a living as pollution drastically affects the catch of fish and other aquatic organisms. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

 

Oil and petroleum waste with high toxicity levels are seen contaminating water at the mouth of Kosasthalaiyar. These contaminants do not degrade and thereby leave traces of toxins in drinking water consumed by the city. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

The ever-growing Kodungaiyur dump 

Drifting away from the shores, the city’s largest dump yard in Kodungaiyur allegedly has 12 million cubic metre of waste, dumped over a period of 30 years. A fire accident in April 2018 brought life to a halt in the area; residents reportedly had to flee to escape the toxic air, the unbearable stench and eye irritation.

The state budget announced in February 2019, however, has allocated Rs 7000 crores for solid waste management in the city, including the remediation and reclamation of both the major garbage dumps, Kondungaiyur and Perungudi.

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Heaps of waste dumped at Kodungaiyur landfill. In addition to being a fire hazard, the waste spreads airborne diseases to surrounding areas. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

 

Banner image: Over 2000 labourers and volunteers helped clear the oil spill using buckets in Ennore. Photo by Amirtharaj Stephen/PEP Collective.

Article published by Kartik Chandramouli
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