The first round of the tug of war between Ambalur villagers and Jolarpet municipality in tapping ground water has been won by the latter. Officials attached to the municipality managed to sink three bore wells in the village on Saturday with the support of the local panchayat, much to the dismay of the residents of Ambalur, who had stalled the operations for over two months.
The farmers here were complaining about the depletion of the ground water table in the village because of excessive sinking of bore wells in the belt.
President of Ambalur panchayat Jayanthi Ravi said, of the three bore wells sunk in the Palar basin near the village, water from one of them would be utilised for the villagers. She said water from the bore well had partially solved the drinking water problem of the village.
Ambalur is one of the few water-rich pockets in the upper Palar region. According to farmers, over one crore litres of water was being extracted from the river bed near the village through a chain of over 200 bore wells and Tirupattur, Jolarpet, Natrampalli, Udayendram and Pernambut towns (which are around 60 km from the village) and over 50 villages on the way benefited from this. Officials attached to the Jolarpet municipality said despite the fact that around 145 bore wells had been sunk within the town (most of which had gone dry) in addition to receiving around 10 lakh litres of water from Ambalur, the requirement was around 25 lakh litres per day, to meet the growing demand from the 30,000 plus population.
President of Vellore District Palar Protection Association, Jamuna Thiagarajan, also a native of this village, while opposing the sinking of wells indiscriminately, demanded a white paper on the status of ground water situation in the upper Palar region and arrangements made by the district administration to augment the same. She pointed out that the villagers were opposed to extracting water from the river since there was only water flowing out for the past two decades and no recharging of the ground water. The State should seriously think of tapping artificial rains in the catchment areas in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh through cloud seeding during the monsoon, to bring surface flow in the Palar river, so that existing water bodies would be replenished, she added.
Quoting a Central government notification, A Asokan, secretary of the Movement for Environmental Protection and Social Development, another NGO here said the upper Palar region had been declared as over-exploited in terms of water extraction and wondered how the State was going against this notification. He said the villagers had decided to seek legal remedies to stop further exploitation of water resources. He also said the State should give top priority for linking Thenpennai-Palar rivers for a permanent solution to revive the ground water.
Asokan said Vellore MP Abdul Rahman had also written to the PM on the need for tapping excess water from Hemavathi river in Karnataka and diverting the same to Palar. The State should explore this possibility also, he added.