TN farmers fear opening river sand quarries will lead to water crisis

The use of machines to take sand from riverbeds in the Cauvery region has led to water scarcity, especially in areas like Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai.
Trucks carrying sand quarried from Thenpennai river near Cuddalore
Trucks carrying sand quarried from Thenpennai river near Cuddalore(FILE PIC)

CHENNAI: The state government’s attempt to reopen river sand quarries in the delta districts after nearly nine months has evoked mixed reactions from farmers, sand lorry owners and civil engineers.

Farmers have voiced strong concerns, urging the government not to reopen the quarries, as they fear the extraction of sand from riverbeds will affect water storage and flow in the region.

KV Elankeeran, president of Federation of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association, told TNIE, “The use of machines to take sand from riverbeds in the Cauvery region has led to water scarcity, especially in areas like Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai. These areas have seen a significant drop in groundwater levels.”

Pointing out that the neighbouring states such as Karnataka and Kerala have started using manufactured sand (M-sand) and plastering manufactured sand (P-sand), Elankeeran urged the state government to reconsider reopening the quarries.

On the other hand, S Yuvaraj, president of Tamil Nadu State Sand Lorry Owners’ Association, emphasised the importance of river sand for quality construction. However, he suggested avoiding the use of machines for mining in river beds. “Instead of machines, manpower can be used for sand extraction. The ban on machinery use in the Palar river should be applied to other rivers as well,” Yuvaraj suggested.

He noted the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has instructed the water resources department not to use machines for excavating river beds. After the Model Code of Conduct for the parliament elections is lifted, Yuvaraj said, he is planning to submit a detailed proposal for mining activities to the government.

MC Vasantha Kumar, secretary of Metropolitan Civil Engineering Association told TNIE, “Gujarat has a council for professional civil engineers, and Karnataka recently passed a bill for their own council. We have been requesting the state government for long to set up a similar council.”

He added, “If the council is established, civil engineers, along with the government, can spread awareness among the public regarding balanced use of both river sand and M-Sand.”

Highlighting that the construction cost has gone up from `2,150 to `2,450 per square feet, he said this is the right time to intervene in the issue.

A senior government official responded saying, “While discussions on reopening quarries in delta districts are under way, we are yet to decide on the number of quarries. After the MCC is lifted, the government will take a policy decision, and quarry operations may start by the end of June or July.”

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com