Sand mining undermining rivers: farmers

ISSUES GALORE: A farmer speaking at the monthly grievances day meeting in Vellore on Friday. — Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan  

Farmers participating in the monthly agriculturists' grievances redressal day meeting here on Friday complained of indiscriminate mining of sand in the Palar and Ponnai rivers, which resulted in the depletion of the ground water resources in the rivers.

D. Gopalakrishnan, a farmer of Sathambakkam village, said that indiscriminate mining of sand is being done in the Palar river in the village for the last several years, but no action has been taken against it. A farmer of Sripadanallur village said that it was also happening at Ponnai river, and the police were conniving at it.

S. Nagarajan, Collector of Vellore, who presided over the meeting, directed the Assistant Director of Mines and Geology to inspect the sand quarries and give a report to him. He asked the official to take action against the police who are conniving at it, and to initiate action against illegal mining of sand.

Farmers in Ambur area complained of pollution of groundwater sources in the area on account of the indiscriminate discharge of effluents from the tanneries into the Palar river. An official of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said that 50 per cent of the salt is recovered from the tannery effluents in the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in Thuthipet near Ambur. Work on the Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant is in progress in the CETP in Pernambut, where the salt is yet to be recovered from the effluents. In respect of the RO plants in other CETPs in Vellore district, they were expected to be completed in two months, he said.

Murugesan, a farmer of Vettuvanam, said that the Agriculture Department has not so far made known its plans of providing paddy seeds and groundnut seeds on subsidy to farmers. He wanted to know when the farmers could get the subsidy seeds for cultivation. Thamizhchelvan, Joint Director of Agriculture-in-charge, said that adequate stocks of paddy seeds were available in the agricultural extension centres in all panchayat unions. Farmers could approach the extension centres and obtain the paddy seeds on subsidy. The department has placed orders for procurement of TMV-2 and TMV-7 variety groundnut seeds, which would be distributed to the farmers at subsidized rates within two weeks through the extension centres, he said.

A farmer of K.V. Kuppam said that farmers who gave their land for the laying of sugarcane roads (roads laid for plying of sugarcane-laden lorries to sugar mills) from Pillanthipattu to Kavasambattu were yet to get the compensation for the land given by them to the State Highways (Projects) Department for the purpose of laying the road. The Collector directed the officials to immediately look into the issue and expedite payment of compensation to the farmers.

A farmer suggested that the government pay the subsidy amount for drip irrigation directly to the farmers to enable them to procure the drip irrigation equipments from private agencies since the equipments currently purchased by the government and given to the farmers on subsidy got damaged soon. The government can pay the subsidy to the farmers even after they buy the equipments, he said.

A farmer wanted computers to be installed for the testing of milk supplied to the village-level cooperative milk producers' societies. The Collector said that computerised testing of milk could be done in societies if the farmers could supply large quantities of milk for procurement. Otherwise the button system could be adopted for the testing of milk, he said.

In reply to a question from Natarajan, a farmer of Pallikonda, an official of the Department of Animal Husbandry said that the department was distributing CO-3 fodder variety on subsidized rates to the dairy farmers for cultivation under irrigated conditions in order to reduce their expenses on dairy development. It distributed maize on subsidized rates for cultivation under rainfed conditions. The farmers could avail of the inputs by contacting the veterinary assistant surgeon of the veterinary dispensary in their villages, he said.