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Tamil Nadu Environmental Issues Notes

Tamil Nadu Environmental Issues Notes

10. Environmental Issues

Man and Environment

Development and environment are the two sides of a coin. Development highly essential for economic growth of a country but not at the cost of the environment. Man has lived continuously in harmony with nature. Man has transformed the environment by scientific and technological revolution. In recent years human intervention in the natural process has created ecological imbalance and environmental damages. Environment is the surrounding in which living organisms live and interact. Human beings are dependant on the environment for their basic needs. Needs multiply with the increase of population. To meet these needs, all natural resources in the environment are being used at a rapid rate which leads to long term adverse effect. These adverse effects become environmental issues of the entire surrounding in which human beings live.

Major environmental issues are:

  • Urbanization
  • Deforestation
  • Environmental pollution and
  • Global warming


It refers to increasing inhabitants of people with non-agricultural occupation with a higher population density than the surrounding regions. The factors influencing urbanization are, industrialization, commercialization, dense network of transport and communication. The level of urbanization in Tamil Nadu is about 44% as per census of 2001. It is the second highest urbanized State in the country. In Tamil Nadu, Sriperumpudur, Kancheepuram and Arakonam are being urbanized due to rapid industrialization and nearness to the Chennai City and due to this they face higher rate of environmental deterioration.

Unorganized encroachment and uncontrolled growth of slums that spring up on all available chunks of vacant lands, river margins and road margins have created an adverse impact on urban environment. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has already taken steps and constructed nearly 3000 shelter units to replace the existing slums.

Table: Slum families along Major Waterways

Name of the river No of slum families
Coovum River

Buckingham Canal

Adyar River




Source: Census 2001

Notable impacts of urbanization

  • Large areas of agricultural and pastoral lands around the City are getting converted into residential and industrial areas.
  • Increase in traffic and traffic congestion cause environmental pollution.
  • Clearance of trees and bushes to meet the fuel and construction needs has reduced the green cover which in turn reduces the amount of rainfall.
  • Loss of habitats of animals and birds and depletion of greenery has made the urban air polluted with less oxygen content.
  • A rapid increase in the urban population has resulted in the breaking down of sanitary facilities and other infrastructures in cities and towns.
  • Land value increases and rent becomes high due to stiff competition for land.

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Deforestation is simply the cutting down of trees. It has serious affected the quality for environment by increasing the temperature, decreasing rainfall, top soil erosion, loss of bio-diversity and causes flash floods. Trees play an important role in maintaining the environmental balance.

Long term effects of Deforestation

  • The long term effects are climate change and loss of bio-diversity. Climate change occurs due to an increase of green houses gases such as carbon dioxide. An increase in carbon dioxide will increase the temperature of the earth and will therefore alter the weather.

Deforestation ruins the habitat of the animals and plants causing them to die. Destruction of forest affect the beauty of an area and directly exerts an impact on tourism.

Short term effects of Deforestation

Fast depletion of forests urges rural people to use inferior quality firewood and make them spend more time on fuel collection. Shortage of forests also force the villagers to use more commercial fertilizers in the place of organic manures. Fodder for grazing cattle diminishes resulting in decreasing number of live stock. Loss of green cover leads to soil erosion. Landslides occur due to in discriminate cutting of trees(Ooty and Coonoor).

Bio Diversity

A wide variety of living organisms including plants, animals and micro organisms are collectively referred to as bio diversity.

Today, human beings are largely to be blamed for irrational activities that cause bio diversity losses.

Loss of Bio Diversity

Extinction of plants and animals due to natural causes or human activities is called loss of bio diversity. It leads to an ecological imbalance.Major threats to biodiversity in Tamil Nadu are:

  • Uncontrolled commercial exploitation of natural resources like forest, coastal areas, wetlands and habitat destruction.
  • Conversion of rich bio diversity sites for human settlements and industrial development.

To protect the biosphere, biosphere reserves have been set up in the Nilgiris and Gulf of Mannar.

The main objectives of the reserves are:

  1. To conserve the genetic diversity of species and to restore degraded ecosystems to their natural and original conditions.
  2. These natural reserves are alternatives for the sustainable growth of species.
Common household items derived from killing animals:

  1. Paint brush – from wild boar and mangoose
  2. To produce 100 gm of silk – about 1500 silkworms are boiled to death
  3. Silver foil – Ox-gut is used (intestine)
  4. Lac – To produce 1 kg. of lac 300,000 insects are killed.

Global Warming

Global Warming may be defined as an increase in the atmospheric temperature near the earth surface due to rise in carbon dioxide levels and the greenhouse effect.

Causes of Global Warming

The main causes of Global Warming are,

  • Emission of greenhouse gases like carbon di-oxide, methane, nitrus oxide and choloro fluro carbon.
  • Burning of fossil fuels(coal and petro;eum) and aggravated deforestation.

Effects of Global Warming

  1. Heat waves and fluctuating weather cause diseases and warming up of Antarctic and Arctic oceans.
  2. Sea level rise and coastal flooding due to glaciers’ melting.
  3. Coral reef bleaching due to to change in ecosystem.
  4. Frequent drought, fire and heavy snowfall.

Control of Global Warming

A few controlling measures are:

  • Switching over from non-renewable energy sources to renewable energy.
  • Stopping the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Afforestation and encouraging people to use public transport.

Role of man in protecting the deteriorating environment

It is now the duty of every citizen of the world to conserve all the resources and aim at sustainable development. Human beings need to change their lifestyle and realize that they should take special responsibility towards protection of the encironment. The following are the steps to be taken for protecting our green earth from degradation.

  • Maintaining harmony with the nature and protecting the environment
  • Eco-development eco-efficiency and eco-friendly technology for the protection of natural resources.
  • Switching off the unused lights and electrical equipment at home and save fuel in transport.
  • Stabilizing the population growth, control of overconsumption of natural resources and preservation of bio-diversity.


Substances released into an environment that cause harm to living organisms and built up structures are called pollution Any substance that causes pollution is called pollutant. Pollutants are of two types: chemical and biotic. Our planet is getting choked with poisonous gases released from industries and vehicles. The problem is worse in crowed metropolitan cities. On the basis of sources, they are classified as

  1. Air pollution;
  2. Water pollution; and
  3. Noise pollution

Air pollution

Air is polluted by the harmful gases released from industries and vehicles. Pollutants such as Co2, Co2 which cause air to be polluted.

Air is pollution causes health hazards like respiratory infection and lung cancer.

Chief sources of air pollution

  1. Industrial wastes;
  2. Automobiles;
  3. Domestic wastes;
  4. Thermo-nuclear wastes;
  5. Volcanic wastes an forest fires.

In Tamil Nadu air pollution is heavy and widespread in urban areas due to vehicular growth, higher concentration of industries along with thermal power plants and indiscriminate burning of garbage and reuse.

Effects of air pollution

  1. Global warming;
  2. Acid rain;
  3. Ozone depletion;
  4. Smog; and
  5. Health problems

Water Pollution

Contamination of water is due to pollutants released from

  1. Sewage and domestic wastes.
  2. Pesticides and agricultural run offs;
  3. Industrial wastes;
  4. Nuclear wastes;
  5. Oil spills

Harmful effects of water pollution

  1. It destroys microorganisms in water and affects aquatic life.
  2. It causes water borne diseases such as cholera, jaundice, dysentery and typhoid.
  3. Damages crops, decreases agricultural production due to deterioration of soil quality and fertility.
  4. Oil spill results in death of sea organisms.

River Pollution in Tamil Nadu

Most of the rivers of Tamil Nadu are non-perennial in nature. Due to irregular supply of water the rivers are mostly used to carry effluents of tanneries, textile bleaching, dyeing and hospital wastes.

The indiscriminate discharge of effluents from textile bleaching and dyeing units in and around Tiruppur, erode and Karur areas have caused pollution in the river system of Noyyil and Amaravathi. Effluents from tanneries is the main reason for land quality deterioration in the Palar river basin of Vellore district. Most towns located along the banks of four major rivers cause sewage pollution. The Kaveri river receives sewage from 11 towns, Palar from 6 towns, Vaigai from 5 towns and Tamiravaruni from 3 towns.

The Government imposed a total ban on setting close to important water sources such as the Kaveri and its tributaries, Ponnaiar, Palar, Vaigai and Tamiravaruni. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board(TNPCB) has set up a special monitoring the highly polluting industries. Ooty, Kodaikkana; and Yercad lakes are monitored by GEMS(Global Environment Monitoring System). Chennai City River Conservation Project has taken up Cooum River Buckingham Canal, Adyar River, Otteri Nallah and Mamblam Canal for cleaning up.

Soil and land pollution

Land pollution is the contamination of land by solid wastes. Any substance that reduces the productivity of the soil and lessens the quality is known as a soil pollutant and the process is known as soil pollution.

Sources of soil and land pollution

Land pollution is caused due to dumping and accumulation of solid wastes from agricultural, industrial and urban sources.

The excessive use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides greatly reduce the quality and fertility of the soils.

Table: Solid wastes generated in major cities of Tamil Nadu

City Tons/Day












Effects of soil pollution

Harmful chemicals enter food chain and cause harmful diseases. Pesticides affect the central nervous system, liver and damage reproductive organs.

Noise pollution

Noise can be defined as the unwanted and undesirable sound. Noise pollution is severe in the industrialized, urbanized and thickly populated regions of Tamil Nadu. Ambient noise level in Chennai is about 75-80 decibels, Coimbatore 80-85 decibels and Madurai 70-75 decibels.

Harmful effects of noise pollution

  1. It causes loss of hearing, headache, mental disorder, anxiety and stress.
  2. Excessive noise causes vibration in buildings.
  3. Disturbs sleep which leads to irritability and nervous disorder.
  4. The fertility of living organisms gets reduced considerably due to noise pollution.

Measures taken by the Government to protect and preserve the environment

  1. Rehabilitation and reclamation of forest resources through afforestation.
  2. National Green Crops: it is mainly to strengthen environmental awareness among school children. The programme was launched in 29 district. Under the scheme, the Government of India provides the grant of Rs. 1000 to every school annually. Nearly 3 lakh children are participating in this programme.
  3. Environmental awareness camps, competition and eco-celebration.

Special days like World Environment Day(June 5), Earth Day(April 22), Ozone Day (September 16) are celebrated every year.

  1. Segregating solid wastes into different types on the basis of degradation through waste management.
  2. Electronic Waste Management

The increasing pace of IT and Electronic industries generate 70% of e-wastes and should be disposed through the authorized recyclers as approved by the TNPCB.

  1. In order to control the emission from goods transport vehicles, vehicle emission monitoring stations are lset up in Chennai by the TNPCB at Alandur, Madhavaram and Ambattur areas and in the other districts at Nilgris, Dindigul, Palani and Chengalpet. Three monitoring stations have been established at guindy, Vyasarpadi and Thirumangalam in Chennai to check vehicular emission. There are 46 air pollution monitoring stations in the city of Chennai.
  2. To create Singara Chennai, parks, flyovers, bridges, modernization of beaches and relaying of footpaths and roads, besides clearing encroachments have been undertaken.
House Sparrows are not found now-a-days to electromagnetic waves from mobile towers.

Tiger population is going down rapidly due to poaching.

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