Madurai

Farmers disappointed

Work on the ₹ 41.08 crore Ramanadhi – Jambunadhi elevated channel, which was started on August 8, 2020 with the objective of completing it by August 2022, has been abandoned after just 1% of the work inside the forest was completed.

This shocking information has been obtained by farmer T. Mariappan of Vaithilingapuram near Aavudaiyaanoor under Right to Information Act. Consequently, farmers of 11 village panchayats in this region have decided to boycott the upcoming local body polls.

The Jambunadhi feeds 4,050 acres of land in 11 village panchayats including Kalloorani, Sivanaadaanoor, Thippanampatti, Ariyappapuram, Aavudaiyaanoor, Peththanaadarpatti, Poolaankulam, Venkataampatti, South Madaththur, Keezha Kadayam and Theerthaarappapuram through 21 ponds. Moreover, the river water, on getting stored in these ponds during the rainy season, improves groundwater table in more than 100 villages.

Unfortunately, the Jambunadhi does not get water like Ramanadhi throughout the year as the latter is blessed with water flow during southwest and northeast monsoons. So, the then Chief Minister K. Kamaraj planned to take the Ramanadhi Dam’s surplus water through an elevated channel to the Jambunadhi to nourish the 4,050 acres of land. After he stepped down from the Chief Minister’s post, nothing happened to execute this project.

After being in cold storage for several decades, the project got revived by the previous AIADMK regime towards the fag end of its tenure. As per the plan, the channel would be dug for 3,215 metres and the elevated channel would be constructed for about 700 metres with 2.30 metre-width and at 1.20 metre height at a total estimated cost of ₹41.08 crore.

Even as the work was started inside the reserve forest area, the Deputy Director of Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve’s Ambasamudram Division stopped the work, saying that the work could be continued only after getting due permission from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Chennai. Consequently, the work that was stopped on October 31, 2020 was not resumed.

“This is very much disappointing and frustrating… After the project conceived by a great leader was shelved for several decades, it was revived very recently. But, it has been aborted following communication gap between two government departments,” says Mr. Mariappan, who submitted the questions under RTI and received reply from the Assistant Engineer, Tirunelveli Special Division Scheme.

Sources in the KMTR’s Ambasamudram Division said the contractor identified for this project used explosives to blast the rocks while digging the channel instead of using earth-movers and the work was stopped. The officials concerned were instructed to get permission from the appropriate authorities of Department of Forest. “The application for resuming this work is pending with Forest Department since February 23, 2021,” the sources said.

Mr. Mariappan said only 1% of the work, which was 50 year-old demand, had been completed and there was no sign of resuming the work to complete it before the deadline of August 2022.

“No land has been acquired and no land owner has received any compensation. But, the government says that the work would be completed by August 2022. The officials believe that the farmers could be pacified with some reply. But this will not be the case this time. If a positive step is not taken, the farmers of this region will boycott the upcoming civic poll,” warned Mr. Mariappan.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 10:07:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/farmers/article35564966.ece

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