Pay compensation for acquired land, strengthen bunds of pond, farmers tell TN government

Stating that the district administration was yet to fix the broken parts of the bunds, farmers urged the state government to repair the bunds before the onset of monsoon.
Representative image
Representative image

THOOTHUKUDI: Stating that the compensation for a parcel of land, which was acquired to construct a pond to store rainwater for irrigating chillies and other term crops nearly 22 years ago, was yet to be given, farmers of K Subbaiahpuram near Kadalkudi urged the state government to provide the compensation amount.

In 2002, the Water Resources Department (WRD) acquired 90 acres from farmers of K Subbaiahpuram, Kadalkudi and Vathalakarai in Pudur block to construct an irrigation pond, under the aegis of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), to harvest rainwater.

A predominantly black soil region, chillies, onion, maize, corn, kambu, and cotton are among the crops cultivated in the village.

Mundu vathal, a red chilli variety, is mainly grown in this region. It is an eight-month crop, cultivated between September and April. Renowned for its spiciness and pesticide and fertilizer-free cultivation, mundu vathal has good demand in the market, said farmers.

As the region did not have a pond to conserve rainwater, which was otherwise wastefully flowing into the sea, the WRD decided to construct a pond on 90 acres. The pond had two sluices for discharging the water into irrigation canals and caters to 150 acres of agricultural lands.

However, the farmers could not benefit much as the sluices were in a low-lying area while the ayacut was above the sluices.

The officials had also stopped the farmers from pumping up the water to their farmland, based on complaints of commercial usage, farmers from K Subbaihapuram alleged.

Meanwhile, the bunds of the pond were breached near Marukalthalai during the December floods. Stating that the district administration was yet to fix the broken parts of the bunds, farmers urged the state government to repair the bunds before the onset of monsoon.

A Chitha Mallu, a chilly farmer who gave 2.5 acres for the pond’s construction, said that he was happy to give the land for the purpose back then. However, the government did not pay the compensation despite several petitions. "We have been waiting for the compensation for 22 years," he said.

Ugam, another farmer, told TNIE that the WRD, then a wing of the Public Works Department, had not yet formed the ayacut, the irrigation expanse associated with the pond, and the water users’ forum to maintain the pond. “If the water is regulated properly, mundu vathal chilly and other crops will get better yields,” he said.

A Varadharajan, president of the Karisal Boomi Vivasayigal Sangam said that even though it has been six months, the DRDA officials have not visited the site of the breach. "The state government must take steps to disburse compensation for the land acquired for the pond and reconstruct the sluices at a higher level so that the water flows into the irrigation canals, he said.

Vilathikulam MLA GV Markandeyan, who hails from the same village panchayat, said that the tank's location is unsuitable for releasing water. "Further steps will be taken once the pending cases are cleared by the court," he added.

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