Involve and consult us, say farmers

While maintenance of water bodies under the kudimaramathu scheme, launched last year by the State government, was going on in full swing, a section of farmers have demanded more transparency, accountability and consultation in implementation of the scheme.

According to officials, kudimaramathu work, which has to be done involving local communities, was planned in 128 water bodies at a cost of Rs. 31.12 crore for the financial year 2017-18. Work has begun in a majority of identified tanks. This includes 65 water bodies in Periyar-Vaigai division of the Public Works Department (PWD), 35 in Periyar Main Canal division, 25 in Gundar division and three in Vaippar division.

Stating that the scheme has been a success so far with a number of water bodies being revived, officials say that major water bodies like Thuvariman tank are being de-silted after around 40 years. However, a section of farmers allege that the scheme is not being implemented properly.

“The very name of the scheme demands that the work be done with the involvement of local communities and farmers who benefit from the tank. It does not happen,” says R. Arulpragasam, who is president of water users’ association in Appanthirupati and part of the Periyar Irrigation Planning Committee.

M. Murugan, president of Periyar Single Crop Area Farmers’ Association, also says that the scheme is implemented on the ground only as any other maintenance work by the PWD was done with the involvement of contractors.

“Local farmers are not consulted. The officials identify a few people, generally aligned with the ruling party, in the village and work with them. The water bodies are identified by the PWD officials without consultation,” he alleges.

M. Thiagarajan from Tirupparankundram, who has submitted a few petitions on the issue, alleges that the scheme is occasionally used to mine sand in violation of rules. “The maintenance work is not carried out properly,” he says.

T. Subramanian, Executive Engineer, Periyar Vaigai division, PWD, says that the work is being carried out in complete transparency and with the involvement of farmers in all the 65 water bodies in the Periyar-Vaigai division. “Anyone can visit the work happening in these water bodies and check for themselves.”

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