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Sewage plant amid fields; farmers a worried lot

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A DEATH WARRANT? Work in progress for the sewage treatment plant. - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN
A DEATH WARRANT? Work in progress for the sewage treatment plant. - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

Karthik Madhavan

They fear the ground water will get polluted

Around 500 families live in the vicinity of the sewage treatment plantAfter losing the battle before a lower court here, the villagers said they might take it to a higher forum

BHAVANI: Residents of Ooratchikottai, about four kms away from here in Kuruppanaiackenpalayam Panchayat, off Mettur Road, are a worried lot.

Farmers, in particular, are more concerned. The cause for their apprehension is the Bhavani Municipality's sewage treatment plant (STP) that is coming up in the midst of their fields.

The villagers and farmers fear that sewage treated in the 8.2-acre STP will percolate down to pollute the ground water, affecting their lives as well as agriculture.

`Will affect crops'

"I fear that if the sewage gets mixed with the ground water, my crops will die. I will not be able to raise crops again," apprehends a farmer of the village. Most of the villagers are agriculturalists with small land holdings, cultivating rice, sugarcane, turmeric and vegetables. Around 500 families live in the vicinity of the STP.

The problem began a couple of years ago when the Bhavani Municipality began working on sewage collection and treatment. At an estimated cost of Rs 2.54 crore, sanctioned under the National River Action Plan, the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD) is building a sewerage system to take the water for treatment at the STP at Ooratchikottai. The STP is being built to treat nearly four million litres per day.

When the news about this sewerage system and STP reached the Ooratchikottai residents, they rose in protest, often staging road roko. Finally the builders, with the assistance of police and revenue officials, constructed major portions of the STP. It is not complete, though. Work to prevent percolation is yet to begin.

TWAD sources had told The Hindu a few months ago that the STP would have a concrete floor to prevent percolation. On Friday, they said a foot of ground would be dug to be filled with clay. "Clay is good and a foot of clay soil will prevent percolation," claimed a TWAD official.

Concrete floor

Bhavani Municipality, it appears, is not concerned about the villagers' apprehension. "The construction is by the TWAD. We do not know what is happening," said an authoritative source in the civic body.

The villagers, however, continue to worry.

After losing the battle before a lower court here, the villagers said they might take it to a higher forum.

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