K. Raju

Between Duraisamyupram and Amachiapuram check dams

Rocks have surfaced on the river bed

“Impose a total ban on sand lifting”

MAYILADUMPARAI (THENI): Despite a High Court order banning lifting of sand from the Vaigai and closure of government quarry depot situated between Duraisamyupram and Amachiapuram check dams, illegal sand mining is in full swing on the river bed, thanks to the ‘support’ of politicians and officials. Nocturnal smuggling is hectic between Mayiladumparai and Gandamanur, said locals.

Water had turned hard in several wells and groundwater table depleted sharply in Mayiladumparai, Gandamanur and nearby villages.

With no sand on the riverbed at Thoppampatti quarry owing to indiscriminate lifting of sand, miners lift sand in upper river basins using bogus permits, alleged V. Sennakesavan, a farmer in Amba Samudram, a village close to the Vaigai. Rocks have surfaced on the river bed up to Murukodai village.

Sand acts as spongy layer to store and recharge groundwater.

With no sand, rain water ran away quickly, he added. Destruction of the Vaigai would not only affect Theni district, but also threaten agriculture and create acute drinking water shortage in southern districts including Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts, he cautioned.

Permanent ban

An expert team from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, who inspected the riverbed on the directions of the High Court, had recommended a permanent ban on mining and construction of more check dams across the river.

Fine quality of sand on the Vaigai riverbed is in great demand in Kerala as it has imposed a blanket ban on lifting of sand from rivers.

With protests from local people and support of Forest officials, the government sand quarry at Dharmarajapuram village was closed.

Residents of Mayiladumparai and Varushanadu hills appealed to the government to impose a total ban on sand lifting between Moola Vaigai and Gandamanur.

Meanwhile, Vaigai Women’s Federation in Mayiladunparai union, who spearheaded the movement along with farmers to protect the river, urged the government to implement Tamil Nadu Tank Protection and Removal of Encroachment Act 2007.

The Tamil Nadu Environment Council convenor L. Antonysamy too assured the Federation that it would mobilise farmers in Dindigul district to support their Vaigai river protection movement.