“Release water for agriculture and drinking water from Palar - Porundalar dam to old ayacut region in Palani”

A division bench in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has issued directions to the Secretary of Public Works Department (PWD), Tamil Nadu, to consider the plea of a farmers’ association to release water for agriculture and drinking from the Palar - Porundalar dam to the old ayacut region in Palani.

In a public interest litigation (PIL), K. Janaharajan, president of the Porundalaru Anicut Rajavaikkal Irrigation Farmers Association, said farmers owning nearly 5000 acres of land in and around Palani depend on water from the Palar-Porundalar dam. “As per the permanent record of the reservoir, release of water to the old ayacut region is scheduled from September 15 to January 31 and for the new ayacut region, from December 1 to April 15. But a PWD order announced release of water only to new ayacut region this year.”

According to the petitioner, the Secretary of PWD, in a government order issued on December 7, 2012, had directed the water resources organisation and Dindigul district administration to release water to the Left Main Canal in the new ayacut region for the benefit of agriculturalists in the new ayacut region. However, no mention has been made regarding the requests of the old ayacutdars in the government order, the petitioner pointed out.

Therefore, he filed the PIL in the High Court stating that the order was passed against the usual procedure and against the rights and interests of a large number of farmers in the old ayacut region who depend on the Palar-Porundalar rivers.

“The district administration and water resources organisation erroneously made a representation to the PWD that water is required predominantly to the new ayacut region. The new ayacut region has only ‘punja’ lands, whereas the old ayacut region has a vast stretch of agriculture land,” he said. The petitioner association also made a representation to the Assistant Engineer of PWD, Palar-Porundalar Dam, seeking release of water to the old ayacut region. Thereafter, they also filed the PIL.

A Bench comprising Justice M. Jaichandren and Justice S. Nagamuthu heard the case. On Thursday, the special government pleader told the judges that the Assistant Engineer of PWD had already forwarded the petitioner association’s representation to the Assistant Engineer of PWD, Palani Sub-Division.

Recording the submission, the judges in their order said: “This Court finds it appropriate to direct the Secretary of PWD to pass appropriate orders, based on the said communication, as expeditiously as possible, keeping in mind the interests of the ayacutdars of the petitioner association.”

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