Four common industrial solvents, some of which are used in pharmaceuticals manufacturing, were detected in ground and surface water samples from in and around the protected Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary in Chengalpattu district, said a study.
The hazardous water pollution has been spoiling the water resource table of the Vedanthangal, one of India’s oldest bird sanctuaries. “Dibromochloromethane and dichloromethane were found in all three water samples, including one from an irrigation well. Tetrachloroethene and toluene were found in a water sample taken from a downstream pond,” said the CCAG members.
The samples were collected on July 10, less than a day after heavy rain in the locality, by Chennai Climate Action Group and Community Environmental Monitoring members. “These findings contradict claims by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board that the factories in the Vedanthangal surrounding area have zero liquid discharge facilities,” said environmentalist Nithyanand Jayaram.
“The fact that factories and pharmaceutical firms are allowed to operate illegally inside a bird sanctuary and discharge toxic chemicals into the sanctuary’s wetlands reveals that the TN Forest Department and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board are not doing their job,” Vishvaja Sambath of Community Environmental Monitoring said in a release.
“The wetlands surrounding the Vedanthangal tank are key to the health of the bird sanctuary. Polluting these wetlands is like poisoning the food source of the tens of thousands of birds that come here every year,” said Vikas Madhav, a naturalist and volunteer with the city-based youth collective Chennai Climate Action Group.
Vedanthangal was recently in the news after the Tamil Nadu government informed the Madras High Court that it had rejected the request for expansion by Sun Pharma, a multinational pharmaceutical company, in Vedanthangal for failing to obtain environmental clearance from National Board for Wildlife.