Krishnagiri: Local area farmers have stepped up their demand for diversion of South Pennar's heavily polluted water to their lakes, which has raised the question 'is treated or partially treated sewerage farming safe'.
"Lots of countries grows crops by using sewerage water. 20 million hectares of land in 50 countries are irrigated by treated waste water or partially treated sewerage, which is ten per cent of the total irrigated land in the world," a district agriculture officer said on anonymity.
The officer added, "80 per cent of the vegetables are grown using waste water in Vietnam. Others countries like China, Kuwait, Israel, Tunisia, Kordan, Morocco and developed regions like North America and Europe use treated sewerage for cultivation."
"In India over 73,000 hectares depend on treated waste water for cultivation. It helps farmers to grow crops round the year and also the yield is 400 per cent more compared to the fresh water farming," the officer said.
Farmers' leader and district president of 'Tamizhaga Vivasya Sangam', S. Subramanian said, "no scientific study was conducted in our district to prove that the crops grown by irrigating treated/partially treated sewerage water is unsafe for human consumption or prolong use of waste water will change the soil to the barren state."
The farmers leader added, "the debate 'is treated sewerage good or bad for farming' began after the National green tribunal's 2015 order for Madhya Pradesh. The order for four villages in that state was given following reports of chemical traces found in the crops grown on an extent of 70 hectares using waste water."
According to Subramanian, banning of waste water for farming in countries like India where farmers' livelihood are lost because of the water issue, would do more harm than good.
"There is need for a mechanism to monitor and ensure that the treated or partially treated sewerage used by the farmers have no toxic elements or heavy metals above the permissible level; that is all the farmers are required to ensure to keep our food safe," Subramanian said.