Concern over sand mining in the Coleroon and the urgent need to dredge water bodies before the onset of monsoon were the major issues that figured in the meeting organised at the collectorate here to hear farmers’ grievances on Friday.

Participating in the discussion on issues confronting Ariyalur farmers, R. Ulaganathan, district secretary, Communist Party of India, alleged that indiscriminate mining of sand was taking place in Thirumanoor panchayat union and apprehended that this would not only result in depletion of groundwater but would lead to percolation of seawater.

He said that sand mining was affecting the Coleroon bed from Thirumazhappadi to Vizhuppanankurichi. Residents of Vizhuppanankurichi observed a token fast on July 20 and blocked sand-laden lorries on September 19, besides making a representation to the Collector on September 6 for cancelling permit granted for sand quarrying in the area. About 15 deep bore wells sunk in the area had gone dry, he claimed. Limestone mining by cement units also impacted the water table, he added.

The Collector, E. Saravanavelraj, said the procedure involved in the granting of mining permit and said that sand could be lifted only after getting due approval from the village panchayat and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. He advised the people to remain united in opposing indiscriminate mining. However, he assured to look into the charge of mining beyond the stipulated area. Pitchai Pillai of Akila Indiya Vivasayigal Sangam, who called for a vigil against sand mining beyond the permitted area, underscored the need to dredge water bodies to retain rainwater during monsoon. Check dams could be constructed in Thirumanoor to retain water, he said.

M. Mani of Tamizhaga Vivasyigal Sangam wanted the Public Works Department to dredge the Thirumanoor canal, while pointing to major quantity of water released recently in the Coleroon going waste into sea. Viswanathan of Jayamkondam Vivasayigal Sangam sought removal of encroachments along water bodies. The government should ensure uninterrupted power supply for farm pumpsets every day during daytime, he said. PWD officials said that 25 tanks in the district had water to the maximum level and 44 had around 50 per cent storage.

Jayachandran of Andimadam appealed to the Collector to grant the long-pending request of Dalits for a cremation ground at Vilanthai South village. The Collector assured to clear the hurdles in getting the identified land ready for construction of a cremation shed or, in the alternative, find another suitable spot.

Mr. Jayachandran deplored the tendency of banks to display the photographs of farmers in their branches for crop loan default, fully knowing that there was crop failure. But such humiliation was reserved only for farmers and not for defaulters of loans worth several crores of rupees, he said. Chengamuthu of Ariyalur Vivasayigal Sangam called for steps to expedite the issue of Aadhaar cards.