Tamil Nadu: Green idea bears fruits in Virudhunagar

For instance, Irukankudi village of Sattur Block in  the district has raked in Rs 20,000 by selling produce grown on a 20-acre river course land.

Published: 31st October 2022 05:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2022 05:18 AM   |  A+A-


Vegetables harvested in Irukankudi being sold in market | Express

Express News Service

VIRUDHUNAGAR: Through Pasumai Vidiyal, a fruitful blend of Miyawaki Forest and other plantation methods, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has managed to increase the forest cover of Virudhunagar district by more than 100 acres within a year and create a steady stream of revenue for its panchayats through the sale of vegetables, fruits, fodder and fish rearing.

For instance, Irukankudi village of Sattur Block in the district has raked in Rs 20,000 by selling produce grown on a 20-acre river course land. While India’s National Forest Policy stipulates a minimum green cover of 33 per cent, Virudhunagar district’s forest area last year was 16.31 per cent, one of the lowest in the State. Tamil Nadu’s average forest cover is 23.71 per cent. 

Under the project, the district administration identified villages in 11 blocks in August 2021 under the ‘Oorukku Oru Miyawaki’ scheme to develop Miyawaki forests in 100 villages. While 76 forests have been set up so far by planting 37,300 saplings, officials have also started a plantation in four more panchayats.  

Virudhunagar Collector J Meghanath Reddy said the idea behind developing Miyawaki forests is to put barren lands to use and prevent encroachment. 

‘Idea is to increase green cover, generate revenue’

“THE idea is to increase the green cover and help panchayats earn revenue for developmental activities, including upkeep of schools and anganwadis,” the collector said. Speaking to TNIE, Sattur Block Development Officer M Shanmuga Lakshmi said the land identified for development in Irukankudi in has until recently been filled with invasive plant species.

“All those bushes were cleared and seedlings of vegetables were sown along with saplings of various tree varieties. The organically produced vegetables were sold at the local markets at a lower price. The land was put to better use, villagers got quality vegetables, and the amount raised was deposited into the panchayat’s account.”

Irukankudi panchayat is not a civic body with deep coffers, said village panchayat president S Senthamarai.

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“But through this project, we are making decent money, and using it for developmental activities such as pipeline repair work,” he said. The district administration had planted lemon saplings here factoring in the demand for the fruit from devotees visiting the nearby Irukkankudi Mariyamman Temple. According to DRDA project director P Thilagavathy, the administration devised a plan to plant saplings of fruits and vegetables that had good demand in local markets.

“Papaya enjoys good demand in Kunnur, a village panchayat at Watrap block. So, papaya seedlings were sown there and the panchayat has so far earned Rs.18,000 by selling papaya and other produce,” he said. The plantation drive was carried out under the MGNREGS scheme. Parts of the plantation land were also earmarked for cultivating cattle fodder.

Sivakasi’s Vendurayapuram village is one such village where the Department of Animal Husbandry grew ‘stylo’, a cattle fodder. Initially, the region was a juliflora jungle. Speaking to TNIE, the joint director of the department, Koil Raja, said the fodder would help in feeding animals, especially during droughts.

“The crop is drought-resistant, and through this initiative, farmers would receive fodder throughout the year and milk yield from the cattle can be sustained,” he said. The administration has also established farm ponds for inland fishing to bring in good revenue. Rohu fish farming has already begun in Irukankudi village.


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