Madurai

Illegal quarrying render tanks hollow and useless

Not an isolated case: lllegal lifting of soil from Pullaanerikulam near Udangudi in Thoothukudi district has rendered out of reach of sluice gates.

Not an isolated case: lllegal lifting of soil from Pullaanerikulam near Udangudi in Thoothukudi district has rendered out of reach of sluice gates.  

With bed so low, water cannot reach sluice gate

Illegal quarrying of soil from many tanks in the Udangudi region has rendered them unfit for irrigation.

The Pullanerikulam in Mudalur village panchayat is currently not used for irrigation but water from it drains to other tanks in the system. Here the level of the tank bed has sunk 6 to 15 feet below its usual level due to illegal quarrying. The tank has a water spread of 15 hectares.

“Hundreds of truck-loads of soil from the tank made their way for land-filling at the upcoming Udangudi Supercritical Thermal Power Station,” says V. Gunaseelan, a social activist. The work for setting up the power station, including construction of the coal jetty and landfilling to raise the elevation, is taking place at a fast clip.

“Although the tank needed desilting, unregulated quarrying of soil has sunk the bed so low that the water will no longer reach the sluice gate and other tanks in the system. Moreover, the revenue for the government is lost due to illegal quarrying,” he says.

According to the Tamil Nadu Minor Minerals Concession Rules, the pits for quarrying soil, silt and gravel should not be more than one metre in depth, and one should not lift more than 90 cubic metres per acre in dry lands.

“The soil was taken illegally until a day ago, and there seems to be a short respite,” says S. Veldurai, a farmer. Agricultural activity in the area stopped about 12 years ago due to scarcity of water. Now, seemai karuvelam dominates the erstwhile agricultural lands.

Similar is the plunder at Ambalkulam located a few kilometres away. Here electric poles stand on tall mounds in the midst of the tank, while all the soil around these mounds has been hollowed out. Similar complaints have been received from various tanks, including Puthan Tharuvai, Vairavankulam and Kallanerikulam, says Mr. Gunaseelan.

A senior official at the Revenue Divisional Office, Tiruchendur, said that all passes issued for lifting the silt at Pullanerikulam, Puthan Tharuvai and Ambalkulam have been cancelled over a month ago following complaints. Diggers were seized and cases were registered against them, he added.

Residents of Udangudi have been complaining of inconvenience caused by dozens of lorries plying though their town. “Accidents have become more frequent in the town after trucks started plying through Udangudi,” says A. Ravi of Traders Development Association, Udangudi.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:27:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/illegal-quarrying-render-tanks-hollow-and-useless/article28867836.ece

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