NAMAKKAL: Reiterating their allegation that private lift irrigation projects illegally pumped Cauvery water from Cauvery canals, farmers in Namakkal district have demanded the State government streamline the lift irrigation projects in the river belt areas.
Namakkal Cauvery River Lift Irrigation Welfare Society president K Balasubramani said, "As per norms, the lift irrigation projects are approved to use only 7.5 HP motors to pump water. Also, the government has allowed use of groundwater through lift irrigation projects for agricultural purposes alone. However, most private lift irrigation projects utilise the groundwater for commercial purposes, which is illegal."
The projects are strictly prohibited from pumping river water. Still, they have been extracting water from the Cauvery river through pipelines. This illegal extraction has drastically affected the water rights of lower riparian districts, including Tiruchy, Thanjavur and nearby districts, for years together, he worried.
Claiming that the private projects only intended to exploit the water resources, Subramani suggested the permission for lift irrigation projects be given only to farmers' cooperative societies, and a high-level meeting, chaired by district collector, be organised at least once in three months.
The farmers also sought immediate action against theft of Cauvery water. Raja Canal Irrigation Farmers' Welfare Association president OP Kuppudurai said, "There are over 50,000 acres of ayacut lands depending on Raja canal, Mohanur canal, Kumarapalayam canal and Poiyeri canal in the district. We have all the rights to utilise the river water for irrigation purposes for decades. Meanwhile, a few lift irrigation projects are trying to create new ayacut lands. Hence, the State government should take immediate action in this matter, considering the farmers' livelihood."
Namakkal Collector Shreya P Singh told The New Indian Express, "We have formed a team of officials from Public Works and Revenue Departments to monitor all the 18 registered irrigation projects in the district. They have been instructed to check if the projects followed the norms such as the use of motors and operation timings. Besides, a flying squad team has been instructed to disconnect power connection immediately for projects that are found to have violated the norms."
The collector also noted that finding the pipelines that are used to pump water from canals to the wells of lift irrigation projects was difficult as the pipelines could be identified only when water level in the wells dropped.
She added that there was a plan to submit a detailed project report to the State government before it took policy decisions with regard to lift irrigation projects.