VELLORE: Three weeks have gone by, but a road laid illegally across the Palar river remains. Officials seem to be hesitating to take action against the violation.
The road was laid overnight on August 27 by some shoe factories in Thuthipet area for easy access to their facilities from Ambur Town.
Apart from laying the road, the shoe factories have converted the riverbed into a parking lot. One can find more than 50 vehicles on either side of the six-metre wide road. Environment and social activists raised a hue and cry to remove the illegally laid road and take stern action against the shoe factories and the road contractor. But the noise raised seemed to have fallen on deliberately-muffled ears.
Saying that the illegally laid road in Ambur connecting Thuthipet and Maligathoppu area was just the tip of the iceberg, Ashokan the secretary of the Movement of Environmental Protection and Social Development Ambalur said, “The riverbed is encroached at several places in Ambur, Pernambut, Vaniyamabdi and Gudiyatam. In many places, the riverbed has been turned into cultivable land, and at other spots houses have been built.”
The irony is that the district administration had already laid a road across the Palar in Eklaspuram under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme two years ago. This threatened the riverbed, which shrunk from 2,000 metres to 200 metres from Devalapuram in Vaniyambadi to Ambur area.
“Heavy rain in the catchment area of Palar in Tamil Nadu and AP for two days will result in a flash flood. Such a situation will lead to human casualties at many places in the Upper Palar basin. The revenue and PWD officials should be held responsible for human casualties if they failed to restore the riverbed,” said the president, TN Green Protection People’s Movement, A C Venkatesan.
He added that they had regularly been appealing to the district collector (R Nanthagopal) to remove the encroachments along the riverbed, but no action had been taken yet. “The district administration fails to agree that there is a lurking danger,” he said, recollecting the flash flood in the Kaanaar in Ambur that killed five in September 2009.
The Executive Engineer, Upper Palar Basin, Anbarasu, had said that they would remove the road laid across Maligaithoppu and Thuthipet within ten days. He added that they were short-staffed and could not monitor the encroachments along the stretch.