Sellipet farmers left in the lurch this year

Officials strengthened the check dam at Sellipet with sandbags but in the subsequent monsoons even the sand bags got washed away, says a resident.

Officials strengthened the check dam at Sellipet with sandbags but in the subsequent monsoons even the sand bags got washed away, says a resident.

Villagers in Sellipet area are keeping their fingers crossed on the availability of groundwater for household needs and irrigation purpose following the complete breach of a check dam constructed across the Sankarbarani River in the monsoon.

The heavy rain coupled with the release from the Veedur dam led to a surge in water in the check dam area resulting in the complete break up of the more than a century-old anicut in November, last year.

Constructed during the French regime, the anicut used to store water for around six months after every monsoon which helped farmers to irrigate around 2,000 acres of cultivable land in around 20 villages in Sellipet-Pillayarkuppam area.

“The entire rainwater got discharged in to the sea after the dam sustained damage. Now, it is completely dry and we don’t know what will happen to us next year. We have been asking the government for the last several years to carry out maintenance work to increase the water holding capacity,” said Sathish Kumar, a resident of Mari Amman Koil Street, Sellipet.

The farmers at Sellipet, Pilliarkuppam, Vazhudavoor, Pakkiripalayam, Kalitherampet, Vambupet, Nerkulam, Muthiranpet and Kumarapalayam are solely dependent on the weir for irrigation purpose, said Bhoopathi, another resident of Sellipet.

The construction of the anicut, said Mr. Kumar, had helped in recharging the groundwater in the area.

“A portion of the dam was damaged during the rain in 2015. The breach was plugged by keeping sand bags and in the subsequent monsoons, the sand bags also started getting washed away. The flow of water was so forceful that the anicut got completely damaged in the recent rain,” said Mr. Kumar.

According to a Public Works Department official, a proposal to take up repair work incurring an expenditure of around ₹6 crore was submitted to the government in 2019. However, the Finance Department did not give its concurrence citing lack of availability of funds, the official said. “The proposal was abandoned and so we could not take up any maintenance work,” he added.

When contacted, Minister for Public Works K. Lakshminarayanan said a proposal to construct the dam had already been submitted to the Chief Minister’s Office.

The plan was to avail ₹19 crore as loan from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, he said.

“We are now re-working the proposal as the Chief Minister has suggested to increase the height of the dam so that more water could be stored. The expenditure will go up as we have to re-design the dam. The new proposal will be ready shortly and will be submitted to the bank for the loan,” the Minister said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2022 5:01:31 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/sellipet-farmers-left-in-the-lurch-this-year/article38299761.ece