Remove encroachments on ponds linked to Athikadavu-Avinashi project, urge farmers

The government should not issue patta to those who occupy the banks of ponds, urged farmers.
Athikadavu Avinashi Project schematic diagram.
Athikadavu Avinashi Project schematic diagram. (Photo | Athikadavu Avinashi Project website)

TIRUPPUR: Farmers who are beneficiaries of the Athikadavu-Avinashi drinking water supply scheme alleged that the banks of several ponds that are part of the scheme have been encroached on. They demanded the fixing of their boundaries after a survey as in some places encroachers have started applying for the patta.

The government should not issue patta to those who occupy the banks of ponds, urged farmers. They also claimed that the bid to get patta had been made ahead of the release of water to the ponds.  

TK Periyasamy, Secretary of the Athikadavu-Avinashi Project Agitation Committee, said, "The people of Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore have been waiting for the Athikadavu-Avinashi scheme for over 60 years. The scheme is being implemented for Rs 1,756.88 crore. In the first phase, 1,045 ponds will be recharged. The work of surveying the missing ponds under this project is also going on."

Periyasamy revealed that most of the ponds under the scheme have been dry for decades."Some ponds are periodically filled with rain. Many ponds that have been dry for decades are now under encroachments. In particular, encroachments have increased on the banks of ponds. The Public Works Department's marker stones on the borders of the ponds have broken. The occupiers will suffer when water is released into the ponds. Expecting this, the encroachers have now started to oppose the release of water to those particular ponds. Recently, a similar incident took place in Annur in Coimbatore district. Therefore, the Tamil Nadu government should re-survey the boundaries of the ponds under the Athikadavu - Avinashi project and remove the encroachments."

M Easwaran, district president of Katchi Sarbattra Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, said, "A large number of houses built on one of the banks of a pond coming under Athikadavu-Avinashi scheme in Avinashi in Tiruppur district are encroachments. Many residents of those houses have now requested the district administration for a patta. Because they know that at some point they will be removed by the government if the pond gets water. So they are trying to get the patta in a hurry. The district administration should not issue patta to those occupying the water bodies."

"When the pond was filled with rainwater a year ago they objected to keeping the water in the pond. They struggled to break the bank and drain the pond water. However,  at the time no one broke the bank of that pond because of our struggle."

Officials of the Department of Water Resources for the Athikadavu-Avinashi project said, "As far as this project is concerned, we are only responsible for releasing water to the ponds. The responsibility for removing encroachments is with the respective local body administrations. PWD ponds are their responsibility."

Officials of the district administration, meanwhile, said, "There is already a court order regarding the removal of water Tiruppur District Collector T Christuraj said, “Action will be taken immediately if the farmers tell us which water bodies and ponds are under encroachment. Farmers can lodge complaints in this regard with their respective Tahsildar and local authorities.”

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