CHENNAI: Fulfilling yet another electoral promise of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, that potters would be granted special permission to take clay from government lands free of cost, the State government has amended Rule 12 of Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, to help potters to take clay from waterbodies without paying seigniorage. This would also benefit farmers to take nutrient-rich silt including clay, savudu and gravel being removed during ‘kudimaramath’ works in waterbodies, channels etc. This order would be applicable to 29 districts except Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.
“Any person engaged in making of pots or any registered Pottery Labourers Coop Society for making pots, the public for bonafide domestic purpose and the farmers for agricultural purpose be allowed to quarry clay, silt, savudu, and gravel, free of charge from the beds of tanks, channels, and reservoirs under the control of the Public Works Department or Rural Development Department which are notified by the District Collector,” a GO issued by Industries Secretary Atulya Misra on April 27 said.
Potters, farmers and the public could quarry clay etc. provided the dwelling place or agricultural land of the person concerned and the quarrying place should be in the same revenue village or in the adjoining revenue village.
Quantity of silt and clay proposed to be removed for agricultural purpose from the beds of tanks, channels and reservoirs should not exceed 75 cubic metres per acre (185 cubic metre per hectare) for wetlands and a quantum not exceeding 90 cubic metre per acre (222 cubic metre per hectare) for drylands once in two years. Quantity of earth, savudu and gravel to be removed for domestic purposes should not exceed 30 cubic metres. Similarly, the quantity of clay to be removed for making pots should not exceed 60 cubic metres.
According to the letter dated April 20, 2017, by Engineering-in-Chief, Water Resources Department and Chief Engineer (General), Public Works Department, de-silting waterbodies in order to increase the storage capacity was one of the missions envisaged during the launching of the ‘kudimaramath’ works of the irrigation tanks and channels in Tamil Nadu in March.
At present, storage in the tanks and reservoirs is only 10 per cent of their original capacity and the water holding capacity has diminished by about 20 per cent on an average due to silting up over the years. The silt deposited in the waterbodies is rich in nutrients and could be applied as a good natural manure to the agricultural fields by the farmers. Hence, allowing the farmers to take earth from the beds of tanks and reservoirs freely to fulfill the requirement for the fields would be beneficial to them and also help the restoration of the lost capacities of the water bodies can also be achieved indirectly.