Tiruchi Collector orders removal of encroachments blocking the feeder channel, earthmover equipment deployed

While people may already be looking forward to the North East monsoon, volunteers committed to bringing Mavadi Kulam back to life, are keeping their fingers crossed.

Activists have their work cut out to clear the 143-acre dry tank of weeds before the monsoon arrives. The initiative received a much-needed boost on Sunday with heavy equipment supplementing manual labour for the first time and the district administration, led by Collector Jayashree Muralidharan, pitching in to help.

Acres of dry land that were once a lake brimming with water, just outside Ponmalaipatti, bore the beginnings of a semblance of their old self on Sunday afternoon. After cleaning by volunteers for three Sundays in a row, close to 10 per cent of the tank was clear of weeds, said Vinothraj Seshan, coordinating the initiative. The efforts of volunteers, which included NSS members, received a thrust with five excavators and two bulldozers sponsored by both government and private agencies, deployed for the work from 7 a.m. on Sunday.

Ms. Muralidharan picked up a spade and joined volunteers enthusiastically. “She worked with us for close to three hours, pulling out weeds,” said a volunteer. The surface of the tank was covered with water hyacinth and tall weeds.

Another pressing problem that activists claim was responsible for the tank drying up was also resolved. An inlet channel feeding the tank had been encroached upon for several years and brought under cultivation. Encroachers had dug out canals to irrigate the patches of paddy and sugarcane. The Collector, on Sunday, ordered the encroachments to be removed and earthmovers from the agricultural engineering department started work on reclaiming the inlet.

The initiative could be successful only if the clean-up was completed before the onset of monsoon, says Vinothraj. “We are happy that so many people were pitching in on Sundays. But the efforts will be fruitless if we do not finish the work before the rains set in.” While earthmovers were sponsored by two individuals, ‘Thanneer,’ the banner under which the Mavadi Kulam initiative has been brought under, hopes that companies and service organisations would pitch in by sponsoring machines for the weekends.

Thanneer plans to involve various units of NSS volunteers on a daily basis to remove water hyacinths clogging the tank.

The clean-up campaign will continue on Sundays.