Failure of Tiruchi Corporation and the Water Resources Department (WRD) in removing encroachments on irrigation canals flowing in the city has raised concern among residents.
Most of the recently developed residential colonies, except the areas around Rockfort, East Boulevard Road, West Boulevard Road, Varaganeri, Palakkarai, Gandhi Market, Madurai Road, Cantonment, Woraiyur and Thennur, had been paddy fields for several decades. The present-day Kumaran Nagar, Srinivasa Nagar, Ammayappa Nagar, Ramalinga Nagar, Shanmuga Nagar and M.M. Nagar on Vayalur road were known for paddy cultivation until about 30 years ago. They were fed by various (vaicals) irrigation channels from the Uyyakondam canal. Rettai vaical, Thotti vaical, Kathiri vaical and Viruppachipuram vaical were among the irrigation channels that served the farmers to raise paddy and other crops for decades.
But the popular paddy areas have become iconic residential colonies due to rapid urbanisation over the periods. But what is causing concern among the residents of the city is the blatant encroachments on irrigation and supply channels and the lack of decisive actions by the authorities concerned to remove them..
While several houses were built by encroaching the bunds of the irrigation channels, there are houses and commercial buildings built on the middle of the channels in Ramalinga Nagar, Srinivasa Nagar, Annamalai Nagar, Thennur and others. There were some real estate promoters and some of those who bought plots along the supply channels, who made it a point to block the channels and then filled up them so as to remove them from the map of the city.
Both the sides of the Uyyakondan canal have encroached at several locations. Several houses were built along the bunds of the canal from Andakondan to Bheema Nagar, and Palakarai to Pichai Nagar. But civic activists voice concern that neither the Water Resources Department nor the Corporation bothered much to take decisive actions to remove the encroachments. Attempts were made in the past to remove encroachments. The Corporation embarked on drives to collect data on encroachments by involving surveyors of the Revenue Department. Based on it the Corporation carried out special drives to remove encroachments.
But it is said that the Corporation could not move beyond a point due to improper planning and execution, nepotism and pressure from influential persons.
“Encroachment on water bodies is the main reason for flooding. It is high time to save the irrigation channels by taking decisive, concrete and continuous steps to remove the encroachments. The District Administration, the Corporation and the WRD should take necessary steps. There should be no compromise on it,” says N. Ramakrishnan, a civic activist.