Demand for culvert over surplus weir of Bahour lake gets louder

Residents and farmers have demanded the construction of a culvert over the surplus weir of the Bahour Lake at Kalingal in Puducherry.

Residents and farmers have demanded the construction of a culvert over the surplus weir of the Bahour Lake at Kalingal in Puducherry. | Photo Credit: S.S. KUMAR

The demand for a culvert across the surplus weir of Bahour lake at Kalingal has been getting louder.

Residents of as many as 30 villages, including 12 from neighbouring Cuddalore district are forced to take a detour through Karaimedu at the lake’s fag end when the lake swells up during October. In the absence of a culvert, the residents have to take a circuitous route covering 3 km to access essential facilities.

“The construction of a culvert is a long pending demand of the residents of nearly 30 villages in Puducherry and Cuddalore, including Vinayagapuram and Arangur. Though the Madras High Court had directed the Public Works Department (PWD) in January this year to construct the bridge within six months, the PWD has delayed the work for reasons best known to them,” said V. Chandrasekhar, president of Bangaru Vaickal Neeradhaara Koottamaippu.

Mr. Chandrasekhar said the Kootamaipppu was responsible for the upkeep of the lake as well as the Bangaru feeder channel. The water users association has also been a part of minor irrigation functions including rehabilitation work under the Tank Rehabilitation Project (TRP), which envisaged revenue sharing in the ratio of 50:50 between the users and the PWD.

“A sum of ₹1.27 crore accrued through an auction of fishing rights in the lake in 2014 was originally planned to be used for construction of the culvert since the association also had a 50% share in the fishing rights. However, the authorities concerned had deposited the amount in the Government Treasury. Though funds for the construction of the culvert are available with the Government, the work is yet to begin”, he said.

According to Ramadass, a resident of Arangur, “The culvert can be built with the existing funds. If the authorities construct the culvert across the surplus weir, it will not only connect villages in neighbouring Cuddalore district but would also help in promoting tourism in the lake, a biodiversity hotspot.”

Farmers from Arangur and Kumarangalam say they face a lot of hardships in selling their produce. “In the absence of a culvert, we have to take a circuitous route of over 3 km to sell our products in Bahour, the rice bowl of Puducherry. The situation gets worse during the monsoon as the connectivity remains cut-off. We have made repeated appeals to the authorities for developing a culvert over the surplus weir to solve our problem but to no avail. If the culvert is built, we will be able to take our agricultural produce on tractors”, says Srinivasa Reddiar, a farmer of Arangur.

When contacted a PWD official said that the existing funds of ₹1.27 crore was insufficient to build the culvert. The project cost is estimated at ₹8 crore and the Government has planned to approach National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for financial assistance. The Government was already seized of the matter and the culvert would be built after receiving funds, he said.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 1:11:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/demand-for-culvert-over-surplus-weir-of-bahour-lake-gets-louder/article65383969.ece