30 units of silt can be removed from the identified water body

Bowing to sustained demands from farmers’ organisations, the district administration has announced that permission will be granted for farmers to remove silt from irrigation tanks and ponds across the district.

The top soil of the tanks and ponds are considered to be a major source of nourishment for fields. Farmers’ organisations have long been demanding that they should be allowed to remove the same to replenish their fields. However, fearing misuse and diversion of the silt for non-agricultural purposes the authorities in most districts refrain from issuing permission to farmers. Taking a fresh look at the issue, Collector Jayashree Muralidharan announced on Friday that farmers will be given permission to remove the silt subject to certain conditions.

The announcement came after a meeting convened by her with farmers’ representatives and officials of various departments to discuss the issue on Thursday.

Farmers will now be able to remove the silt with due permission from nearly 1900 major and minor tanks, including those under the control of the River Conservation and Ariyar divisions of the Public Works Department and local bodies.

In a statement, Ms. Muralidharan said apart from helping nourish fields, removal of the silt from tanks would also help improve their storage.

Farmers will be issued permission for removing the silt based on individual applications, she said. Farmers should apply for permission to the tahsildhar concerned quoting the survey number of their land, the tank name from where the silt is sought to be removed, the quantum and the duration.

Applications should be submitted along with copies of the computerised chitta of the land and no-objection certificate from Public Works Department or Panchayat. Applications will be processed on priority and all applicants will be issued acknowledgements. Farmers will be allowed to transport silt from the tank only on tractors and each farmer will be allowed a maximum of 30 units an acre. The silt should be removed only between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The vehicles transporting the silt should have the permission letter issued by the tahsildar, failing which the vehicle will be seized.

Those who fail to utilise the permission within the stipulated time will get a chance only after all the others in the seniority list are given permission. Removal of silt will be allowed only during the non-irrigation season and will be subject to the conditions laid by the PWD and Revenue authorities, she said.

Farmers were elated over the decision. “We welcome the bold decision of the Collector, especially at a time when officials in other districts are hesitant. The move will help farmers immensely and help reduce their fertiliser consumption,” said R. Raja Chidambaram, State Secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.

The price of DAP has increased from Rs. 455 to Rs. 1,200 and Complex from Rs. 325 to Rs. 900 for a 50-kg bag over the past two years. By applying the silt on their fields, farmers could cut down the expenditure chemical on fertilizers, he said. However, he appealed to the administration to simplify the procedure and direct the department concerned to issue the permits directly. The process should be monitored closely and any attempt to use the silt for non-agricultural purposes should be checked.

Welcoming the move, Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district president, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, sought simplified procedure to help farmers take advantage of the decision.