Fee for excavating silt from waterbodies in Tamil Nadu may be slashed

A senior WRD official told TNIE, “With most waterbodies dried up, the focus is on enhancing storage capacity.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

CHENNAI: The Water Resources Department (WRD) is considering to reduce or remove tariffs for the extraction of clay from waterbodies for commercial use.

Currently set at Rs 340 per unit, the department contemplates it would facilitate desilting of over 14,000 tanks and 90 reservoirs across the state, many of which are parched due to the prevailing heat conditions.

A senior WRD official told TNIE, “With most waterbodies dried up, the focus is on enhancing storage capacity. Given the financial constraints in allocating funds to each waterbody, discussions are under way between the state government, district administrations, and WRD officials to permit commercial entities to extract sand from tank for free.”

However, the official said a decision on this will be taken only after the model code of conduct (MCC) for Lok Sabha elections is lifted.

Shedding light on the clay-extraction norms, another official said the existing rules allow up to 800 carts of clay to be quarried from a waterbody free of cost for the purpose of making pottery and bricks in the vicinity. “However, obtaining environmental clearances is mandatory,” he said.

The silt accumulated in waterbodies is nutrient-rich and serves as excellent natural fertiliser for agricultural fields. Therefore, WRD has been already granting farmers permission to take the silt during the summer. However, permissions for this year is pending and will be addressed post-MCC, the official added.

KV Elankeeran, president of Federation of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association said, “Several lakes, including Veeranam in Cuddalore and Ponneri in Ariyalur are currently dry. Ahead of the South West monsoon, the state government can extract clay from waterbodies and distribute it evenly to farmers.”

Earlier, some individuals had excavated more than the permitted quota, leading to environmental concerns. To prevent such incidents, Elankeeran urged the state government to initiate the process promptly.

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