TAMIL NADU

Move to set up TISCO unit near Nellai flayed

Villagers apprehend threat to groundwater level

Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: Residents of Kuttam, a coastal hamlet, about 75 km from here, on Monday submitted a petition to the Collector, Atul Anand, urging the district administration to restrain Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) from carrying out mining activities in their area.

The TISCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government to establish a multi-crore unit at Kuttam for producing titanium-di-oxide.

There is a widespread apprehension at Kuttam and surrounding villages that the already depleted groundwater will go down causing massive intrusion of seawater into the land if the proposed unit starts its activities in the region.

In the petition, the villagers said the TISCO had sought permission to carry out mining activity in both patta and poramboke lands of Kuttam. While the villagers use poramboke land for the purpose of burying the dead, grazing and drying farm produce, they take up farming activities on patta land with a good number of palmyra, tamarind and cashew trees — a significant source of revenue to the villagers.

If the TISCO was allowed to mine sand from this area, the groundwater level would go down alarmingly and farming operations would be under severe threat. Transformers and electric poles supplying power to land would suffer extensive damage.

"Since this rain-fed region is relying on groundwater for farming activities and drinking purpose, the company should be asked not to draw groundwater for its use. It should not be permitted to draw water from Thamirabarani also as it would have adverse impact on agriculture in the tail-end areas. Instead, it should be asked to set up a desalination plant for its water requirements. The TISCO should be allowed to mine only in the land purchased by it after taking all precautionary measures while rejecting its application for mining patta and poramboke lands, the villagers said.

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