The committee oppose sand mining as it will affect agriculture

Members of the River Water and Agriculture Protection Joint Action Committee alleged that they were attacked by a group of persons led by the president of Oruvanthur Panchayat Sella Rajamani, who is also the president of the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Federation. While the committee is opposing sand mining in that village, the president claimed that mining sand will greatly benefit the villagers.

The committee’s co-ordinator R. Dhanalakshmi said members went to the village to have a look at the water supply scheme from the Cauvery and availability of sand alongside the village, recently. Oruvanthur is one of the four places on the banks of the Cauvery in this district close to which the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has marked sites for quarrying sand.

“Our committee is opposing sand mining there as it will badly affect agriculture and availability of drinking water due to depletion in ground water level. But when we entered that village, about 50 persons led by the panchayat president blocked our way, used abusive language and threatened to murder us if we opposed mining,” she alleged. Mr. Sella Rajamani, when contacted, denied the charges and claimed that he had in fact gone to the rescue of the committee members who were blocked by the villagers. “The villagers are interested to permit sand mining in the Cauvery near our panchayat and carry it through our village. Villagers were agitated when they came to know that the committee had come to oppose sand mining,” he said. About the decision taken to permit sand mining, he said the panchayat passed a resolution to this effect about eight months ago. He noted that the panchayat would get Rs. 180 as seigniorage for every truck of sand that is quarried in the river close to our local body and will be deposited in its account. If sand is quarried here for five years the panchayat will get additional revenue to the tune of Rs. 2 crore.

This money will be utilised to carry out various infrastructure development works such as laying roads.

The huge volume of sand that is available in the river near our village has flooded low-lying localities where Dalits reside. Mining this sand will ensure that the floods will not affect the people in the future,” he added.