Forest department officials have been accused of stalling the work of clearing wild growth of Propis juliflora on a sprawling irrigation tank for which Public Works Department has given orders for renovation under kudimaramathu scheme.

District Farmers’ Welfare Association’s M. Ramalingam said though the PWD had given in writing that no permission had been given to the Forest department for growing any plantation under the social forestry scheme, the Forest department officials were objecting to removal of the wild growth.

“The Gundar Basin Division of the PWD has allocated Rs. 30 lakh for taking up kudimarathu work. But, it looks like the work is confined to strengthening of the bund. This is not going to provide any major relief to farmers as the water spread area has been covered by the wild growth,” he said.

The tank, with a water spread area of 113 hectares, is fed by the Therkkar. It serves an ayacut of around 425 acres. “However, the social forestry officials have stated that they have got juliflora grown on 50 hectares without specifying the area in the tank. This is stalling our work of renovating the tank,” Mr. Ramalingam, who is heading the committee to monitor the tank renovation work, said.

After the PWD officials asked Forest department to clear the wild growth immediately to enable kudimaramathu work, Forest department said the lessee had sought more time to remove the wild growth, for which a proposal had been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

The tank has lost a good portion of its water storage capacity due to the wild growth and also because of lack of desilting for decades. “It has been irrigating some 150 acres for several years now due to low storage,” he said. This is despite the fact that various agencies had spent over Rs. 1.50 crore to rejuvenate the tank over a decade.

Sivarakottai Karisalkulam Farmers’ Association, on May 15, passed several resolutions seeking to remove the wild growth, desilt and strengthen the bund.

It has also demanded a complete survey of the tank and marking of its boundary.

The association also demanded implementation of repair works, including in its sluices, shutter, weir and distribution channels, he said.

During a recent farmers’ meeting, Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao had instructed officials to inspect the tank and remove the encroachment, if there was no scheduled timber like sandalwood or rosewood.

“The farmers are ready to remove the wild growth at our own cost. All that we want is that the government should not waste public money on strengthening the bund without proper renovation of the tank,” Mr. Ramalingam said.

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