Tamirabarani river, the lifeline for people living in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, is dying a slow death. There is an urgent need to protect the river from illegal sand miners and steps need to be taken to prevent pollutants from flowing into the river, according to K.K.S.M. Dehlan Baqavi, State president of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

Mr.Baqavi said on Sunday that it was not just the people of the two districts who benefited from this key water source, but those living in Virudhunagar district too benefited from the river. To cater to the drinking needs of the people and the irrigation needs of the farmers, there were eight anaicuts and eleven channels built, he noted.

The cadres of the SDPI had embarked on a mission to protect the river water under the banner ‘Save Tamirabarani River’. Seeking participation of the community, they distributed pamphlets and organised street corner plays to advocate measures to protect the river.

The campaigners pointed out that the river sand acted as a filter and hence it should be protected from illegal sand miners. Indiscriminate mining of the river sand had also made the area into a death trap and a number of fatalities were being recorded every year.

The supply of river water to industries should be stopped and they should be encouraged to set up their own desalination plants, they demanded.

The activists also sought the removal of encroachments on the riverbank so that it ensured holding capacity of the water to the fullest. Letting of sewage and industrial pollutants into the river had to be prohibited, the activists noted.

With the active participation of campaigners, who launched their mission on February 15, hundred street corner plays had been staged so far in various parts of the two districts, Mr.Baqavi noted.

He pointed out that there were 64 places where drainage was being let out into the river causing pollution. Moreover, used oil from private vehicles, including lorries and buses, were also drained into the river. To clean the river, adequate funds should be allotted by the government, he appealed.