One section says it will be an exercise in futility, while the other says it is a dire necessity
Difference of opinion among farmers over concrete-lining of LBP (Lower Bhavani Project) Canal surfaced during the monthly grievances day meeting chaired by District Collector V.K. Shanmugam here on Friday.
One section of farmers sought to explain that the Rs. 1,210-crore concrete-lining project would turn out to be an exercise in futility, citing the difficulties a majority of farmers in the ayacut areas would be subjected to, while another section, especially those in tail-end areas of the canal in Erode and neighbouring Karur districts, emphasised that it was a dire necessity.
By altering water availability through implementing the project, the Public Works Department (PWD) would be stirring a hornet’s nest. Maintenance of concrete-lined canals constructed under the Parambikulam-Aliyar and Mulla Periyar projects had proven to be costly. On the other hand, maintenance of the Lower Bhavani Project Canal did not entail expenditure in the last 60 years.
The future of farmers cultivating crops in the canal’s ayacut area would be in jeopardy. Disadvantages would overweigh benefits. There was no need for the Government to implement the project with World Bank loan, said S. Nallasamy, president of Lower Bhavani Farmers’ Welfare Association, charging the PWD with misleading the State Government on the issue.
He exuded hope that the Chief Minister would step in (to cancel the project) before the start of its implementation.
Mr. Nallusamy also advocated implementation of turn system, saying that water availability in the Bhavani Sagar Dam and requirement of water until the end of the crop season must be taken into consideration.
But, farmers benefitting from the canal’s ayacut in Chennimalai area wanted the project to be implemented. Modernisation of the canal was necessary to ensure water supply to farmers in the district’s farther end as well as eliminating enormous wastage due to seepage, N. Swaminathan, a farmer of Chennimalai area said.
He urged the PWD to shelve release of water through turn system as water availability for Chennimalai farmers would be curtailed to just three days a week at a time when the agriculture activities had taken a hit due to prevailing water inadequacy.
The point raised by farmers of Chennimalai was buttressed by those in Aravakurichi taluk of neighbouring Karur district. Agriculture fields in about 4,000 acres in the villages of Anjur, Monchalur and Karvizhi would turn arid if the concrete-lining of LBP was not undertaken, they said in a representation to the Collector.
The project was all the more important since the Cauvery River Waters Tribunal had reduced award of water for irrigation in Lower Bhavani ayacut area to 28 tmc from the earlier level of 36 tmc, they added.