TAMIL NADU

Ambalur villagers protest digging of new borewells in Palar River

There are many such open wells and hundreds of borewells in the Palar river as a result of which the water bodies in and around Ambalur have become dry.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy  

Ambalur villagers expressed their opposition to the move of the Jolarpet Municipality to dig five additional borewells in the Palar River in Ambalur panchayat near Vaniyambadi to tide over the drinking water scarcity of Jolarpet residents.

On account of the drying up of two out of the five existing borewells in the Palar in Ambalur, officials from Jolarpet Municipality went to the river on Tuesday to dig new borewells. The villagers prevented them from going ahead with the work.

On the instructions of the Tirupattur Sub-Collector Shilpa Prabhakar, Tirupattur tahsildar Dharmalingam and Vaniyambadi tahsildar Geetha Rani convened a meeting at the village panchayat office in Ambalur on Thursday to talk to the agitated villagers and try to convince them about the need to dig the borewells to tide over the water scarcity in Jolarpet.

But the villagers who spoke at the meeting appeared firm in their move to oppose further extraction of groundwater from the Palar River in Ambalur in view of their fear of depletion of the water resources of the Ambalur panchayat on account of the indiscriminate extraction of groundwater from the river there.

Mr. Dharmalingam and H. Gopu, Commissioner of Jolarpet Municipality, said that while Jolarpet required 2.5 million litres of water per day (LPD), it got less than 50% of its requirements from the five existing borewells in the Palar River in Ambalur. The borewells yielded only 10 lakh LPD for a population of 30,000.

G. Jothi Govindasamy, councillor of Jolarpet Municipality said that out of the five existing borewells, only three were yielding water. That is the reason why the councillors have been demanding digging of additional borewells in the Palar to tackle the water scarcity.

Jamuna Thyagarajan, president, Vellore District Palar Protection Association, said that the satellite pictures obtained by the Central Ground Water Board point to the fact that the highest extraction of water from the Palar River has taken in place in the Tirupattur area which includes villages such as Ambalur, Kodayanji and Ramanaickanpatti.

Palar has already become highly polluted on account of the discharge of effluents by the tanneries in the Ambur-Vaniyambadi belt.

The extraction of groundwater by the Tirupattur, Vaniyambadi, Ambur and Jolarpet municipalities, and the Natrampalli and Udayendram town panchayats and several village panchayats in the Palar River, especially in Ambalur has so much worsened the situation in the last 40 years that the people of Ambalur and nearby villages would go without water in the not too distant future.

There are many open wells and hundreds of borewells in the Palar, as a result of which the water bodies in and around Ambalur have become dry. “We do not have enough water for irrigation and drinking”, she said.

Ms. Thyagarajan wanted the Tamil Nadu Government to give top priority to water governance in view of the fact that water is becoming a scarce commodity. The government should implement a scheme for the restoration of the polluted Palar and clean the river. She alleged that the government is not giving to the Palar River the same attention it was giving to the Cauvery.

Soundararajan, president, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Natrampalli panchayat union said that 40 years ago, the Palar River in Ambalur had water at a depth of five feet, but today, water is available only at a depth of 600 feet due to the indiscriminate extraction of groundwater over the years.

Mr. Dharmalingam said that the view of the villagers would be conveyed to the District Collector through the Sub Collector. Further action in digging borewells would depend on the instructions of the district administration, he said.