Farmers allege political interference in lifting silt from Bhavani Dam

It is alleged that the work of lifting silt from the dam has been hampered since Friday due to political interference.
Farmers allege political interference in lifting silt from Bhavani Dam
Photo | Express

ERODE : Farmers requested the Water Resources Department (WRD) officials to prevent political interference in lifting silt from the Lower Bhavani Dam (LBD). They plan an indefinite hunger strike soon if the request is not heeded.  

It is alleged that the work of lifting silt from the dam has been hampered since Friday as due to political interference farmers are asked to pay higher charges for loading the silt.

S Jothi Arunachalam, district coordinator of Tamil Nadu Farmers Protection Association, said, "Lower Bhavani Dam is the main water source for the people of Erode district. Lakhs of acres of agricultural lands in Erode, Tiruppur and Karur districts get irrigation facilities through this dam. As the water level in the dam is low, we requested the district administration to give permission to take silt from the dam to be used as fertilizer for agricultural lands. Permits were given to farmers on request."

He revealed that farmers have temporarily stopped the lifting of silt from the dam from Friday following over-charging for loading excavated silt.  
"From June 3 we have been lifting silt from the dam following proper guidelines. A machine was used on behalf of the farmers to excavate the soil sediments. A fee of Rs 350 per unit was charged for this and that was the right charge for machine usage. However, a week earlier, the local DMK functionaries had obtained permission to load trucks with silt by using machines. Initially, they charged Rs 350 per unit. Now they are asking for `600 per unit. Due to this, farmers have stopped lifting silt," Arunachalam added.

"We have requested the Water Resources Department officials to prevent the interference of local political figures in this matter. Only farmers' machines should be allowed to lift the soil from the dam. Otherwise, we are going to launch a massive hunger strike in a couple of days," he stated.
C Sathish, a farmer of Sathyamangalam, said, "The district administration allows 25 units of silt to be taken from the dam per acre of 'Nanjai' land. At the same time, farmers holding 'Punjai' land are allowed to take 30 units of silt per acre from the dam. More than 300 farmers have benefited so far from this beneficial scheme. So there should be no political interference in the scheme for farmers."

A higher official of WRD in Erode said, "In 2017, the government allowed the farmers to lift silt from the dam. But then it was ordered that only Public Works Department vehicles should be used for lifting silt. But now the government has allowed farmers to use their vehicles. This is the cause of the problem and the interference by local political functionaries. This issue will soon be resolved through talks. Action will be taken to ensure that farmers are not affected."

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