Suspected to be an act of sabotage
TAMBARAM: A huge quantity of water drained out of the Selaiyur lake after a portion of the bund around a sluice gate was found damaged on Friday morning. The water flooded vast tracts of agriculture land under cultivation.
N. Kuppuswamy, a farmer, was the first to notice the water gushing out of the sluice gate (‘madhagu’) on the eastern side of the lake bund. He alerted other farmers who were tilling the land at that time.
As the news spread, other farmers in Selaiyur rushed to the spot and noticed a 20-foot-wide breach on the bund and began trying to plug it by dumping whatever they could gather, including branches of trees nearby after chopping them. They arranged empty cement bags and after filling them with mud, placed them around the sluice gate.
Personnel from the Selaiyur police station, Tambaram Taluk Office and Tambaram Municipality came to the spot. K.Damodaran, Municipal Councillor of Ward No. 18, said that around 10 a.m. when the breach was first noticed, it was only a few feet wide but increased in a short span of time as mud caved in.
Farmers and Selaiyur residents alone were seen plugging the breach and were sore over the government agencies as even by 2 p.m. sand bags did not arrive. They also suspected it to be an act of sabotage by miscreants to prevent flooding of houses that had encroached on the western side of the lake.
E.Balaji of Selaiyur Water Bodies and Environment Protection Committee, a voluntary agency, said the original expanse of the lake was 175 acres but the water spread area had now dipped to less than 100 acres owing to encroachments. Groundwater around the lake was excellent earlier, but had now become salty owing to the draining of sewage from the western side of the lake.
The flow of water from the lake on Friday flooded nurseries where paddy seedlings were being raised. The seedlings were just about ready to be transplanted. Mr. Balaji said paddy was cultivated in nothing less 300 acres of land near the lake and currently, tilling was on in 160 acres of land by farmers for transplanting the seedlings.