Pond desilted in 2019, declared barren land in 2021: Kadayam villagers in TN

Officials, however, continue to dismiss the allegations.
Villagers objecting to counting of trees in pond which is the spot for TANSIDCOs upcoming Industrial estate project in Dindigul.
Villagers objecting to counting of trees in pond which is the spot for TANSIDCOs upcoming Industrial estate project in Dindigul.(Photo | Express)

DINDIGUL: Tension between villagers of Kadayam, in Oddanchatram taluk, and Tansidco (Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation Limited) continues to simmer amid the government utility's plan to set up an industrial estate on a parcel of land that the locals claim is a pond - a primary source of irrigation for farmlands in Mettupatti, Vakarai, Poolampatti, Vedikaaran Valasu, and other areas. Officials, however, dismissed the claims of farmers.

The farmers have been agitating for the past couple of weeks. The matter came to a head on Monday when hundreds of farmers and villagers were detained for their bid to protest against the project. Villagers claimed that the contested site is a village pond named 'aralikuthu kulam', which is spread across 74 acres and houses over 700 trees, and that it was desilted (kudimaramathu) in 2019.

Speaking to TNIE, P Selvaraj, a farmer said, "Kadayam village is located a km away from Nallathangal pond, which is spread over 60 acres. Whenever the catchment areas receive good rain, the water flows from Nallathangal pond and into 'aralikuthu kulam' in Kadayam. It then travels to reach Porulur pond, Padavar pond, and Salakadai pond, which has a 24 foot-tall large check dam. Since 'aralikuthu kulam' is connected to the stream, farmers were upset after it was declared barren land in 2021. Later, the same land was deemed fit for the industrial estate project. The forest department had arrived to count the trees near the pond, but were chased out by the villagers."

Expressing shock at the project, Kadhayam village panchayat president M Vijaya Lakshmi told TNIE, "In the early 1960s, there was widespread water scarcity and a dip in food production. So, the state government created artificial ponds, with 'aralikuthu kulam' built in 1963. It remained as a waterbody for several decades, until 2002, when the panchayat brought the pond under its umbrella. For several decades later,  desilting activities were carried out under MGNREG scheme. It was desilted even in 2019. The, how did the land come to be used for industrial purpose?"

Officials, however, continue to dismiss the allegations. Revenue Divisional Officer (Oddanchatram) K Saravanan told TNIE, "During a meeting with the collector a few days ago, farmers showed documents about the desilting works conducted at the site. Revenue records, however, categorised the land as poromboke, which has been barren for several years. When we inspected the site, we found soil formation similar to where water flows through or gets stagnated. The site does not fall under the irrigation (ayacut) zone. That is why the land was selected for the industrial estate." 

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