Agriculture Lands are poisoned by textile processing units

Kadaiyampatti village families’ plight

Unproductive land:Indiscriminate discharge of effluents has severely affected the agricultural activities of families in Kadaiyampatti near Bhavani. — PHOTO:M. GOVARTHAN

ERODE: The families depending on the income from agriculture in Kadaiyampatti village, near Bhavani, are slowly quitting their profession as the textile processing units in the area are poisoning their lands by discharging chemical effluents.

Huge amount of untreated effluents are being let into the cultivable land, vacant space and water carrying channels. “The effluents got stagnated on the land and percolated deep into the ground, poisoning the soil and the ground water,” people in the village point out.

The agricultural productivity has come down drastically. The soil has become unproductive.

“There is a sharp fall in the crop yield. Agriculture is no longer fetching good income for us. Already a significant number of people in the village have quit farming and started selling their lands,” K.R.Palanisamy, a farmer in the village says.

What is more bothering is that the textile processing units are buying these lands and letting out effluents into them.

“All the nearby lands are affected due to this practice,” farmers said.

Environment

“The entire environment in the village is polluted. Children and women fall ill very often. A significant number of people have already moved to Bhavani and Erode,” farmers point out. Farmers, who made repeated representations to the authorities concerned earlier, have now stopped complaining.

“There is no point in complaining as officials at the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the district administration remain mute spectators. They know that we are suffering at the hands of textile processing units. We have complained umpteen times to the Collector at the grievances redressal meeting. But still no fruitful steps have been taken up to shutdown these units,” farmers lament.

“It seems the authorities want to see all of us quit farming and give way for the textile processing units to pollute the environment more,” villagers charge.

Officials, when contacted, maintained that they were taking action against the textile processing units, which were violating the rules.

“If authorities’ shutdown a unit, the machineries are shifted to another building to start a new unit and continue to pollute the environment.

The Central and State governments should bring in an effective solution to this issue and protect the agriculture,” farmers demand.

S. Ramesh – From THE HINDU

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Project for restoration of water bodies to be over by August

Being implemented in Perambalur district with World Bank aid

PERAMBALUR: The Irrigated Agricultural Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) project now being implemented in Perambalur district with World Bank assistance will be completed by August this year.

Official sources told The Hindu on Saturday that as many as 33 tanks and nine anicuts were taken up for renovation in Perambalur district at a cost of Rs.5.36 crore under the IAMWARM project and 60 per cent work had so far been completed in the district.

The project in Perambalur district benefits a total ayacut of 3,006 hectares and about 48,000 metres length of tank bund will be strengthened and about 43,700 metres length of supply channels is being repaired. Nine sluices will be reconstructed and 16 weirs repaired.

The sources pointed out that the entire project was being implemented with the combined efforts of the water resources, agriculture, agricultural engineering, horticulture, agricultural marketing, animal husbandry and fisheries departments and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

Rehabilitation of tanks, anicuts and supply channels, formation of water users association, introducing alternative crops, precision farming, micro irrigation system, drip and sprinkler irrigation, formation of farm ponds and growing fish, organic farming and system of rice intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation are the works being implemented under the project.

From THE HINDU

It is time to act now and do something to save agriculture

A Mechanical Engineering degree from an Indian Institute of Technology is a passport to a wide horizon of opportunities for any student. But for R. Madhavan, who passed out of IIT-Madras in 1986 and took up farming as an industrial enterprise, it was a means to redefine the role of engineers. From being considered a fitting candidate for psychiatric counselling to an inspirational figure, he has come a long way. He spoke to Ajai Sreevatsan recently about his journey.

“In India, food is so expensive. Nobody can afford food. Poor families spend 70 per cent of their monthly earnings on food,” says R. Madhavan. “Technology has to be used to improve productivity. The cost per unit has to come down. Educated youth should take up agriculture as an enterprise and start value adding in villages through processing centres. Best of the brains should look at agriculture.”

But unfortunately in India, he says, agriculture is considered a lowly occupation and lack of technological intervention means we produce less than other countries in spite of our natural endowments.

“Agriculture is a science. Each plant is an industry. It is a life,” he added. Having left his well paying job with ONGC in 1993 and using all the money he had saved to buy six acres in Chengalpattu, he set out to prove exactly that – with the application of science, much of the drudgery and misery associated with farming can be overcome.

“At first, it was extremely difficult. There was no technology and nobody had practical information. All that the university departments could offer me were photo copies of books. How do you do farming with that?” asks Mr. Madhavan.

Eventually he learnt his ropes through trial and error and by devising a concept which he calls e-farming. He corresponded with an agronomist based in California – sending him pictures of crop growth, putting queries about pest control and then adapting solutions to Indian conditions.

The experience was an eye-opener he says. “I never realised so much of science is required in farming.” For example, 13 elements have to be properly balanced for a particular soil to be suitable for cultivation. I religiously sent samples to the district soil testing laboratory. But I soon realised that without even analysing, they were giving me a photo report copy assuming that soil samples from a particular district will have the same composition. That is like saying if you come from Tambaram, you have cancer.”

According to him, the disconnect between agricultural universities and farmers is vast. “Students are not being taught how to farm. They are being taught how to get a certificate. Farmer does not know why agriculture universities exist.”

Pointing out that 46 per cent of children in India suffer from malnutrition and we are worse off than Sub-Saharan Africa in child malnutrition he says the time to act is now and something urgent must be done to agriculture for the sake of future generations.

From THE HINDU

Palani: Wild elephants destroy crops

PALANI: Several acres of standing crops, including perennial crops, near Sattaparai were destroyed when two wild elephants ran amuck in agriculture fields on Sunday. The elephants came down from the reserve forests in lower Palni hills and raided maize field and other farms.

When villagers tried to drive them into forests from the maize field, the angry elephants entered into neighbouring coconut and guava farms and uprooted several trees. Eye witnesses said that the elephants were confused and irritated as villagers surrounded them and tried to drive them in all directions. With persistent threat from all corners, these elephants ran from one corner to another corner of the field destroying crops.

Moreover, live electric fence around some farms too angered these wild animals. These animals have been camping in the farms near the village since Saturday night. They were standing just half kilometre away from Sattaparai-Ayakudi main road. Vehicle movement was also stopped fearing that the animal could attack people at any time.

But no forest officials came to the spot till Sunday evening. Having tired of contacting forest officials, local people have been struggling to drive these wild animals in an unorganised manner.

If forest officials do not come to their help, these elephants will destroy several acres of maize crop, a major crop in Palani taluk, farmers said.

The sudden raid by the wild animals was not new to several villages near Ayakudi and other areas along lower Palni hills. “We had appealed to forests officials to install solar fence or dig a pit along reserve forests to prevent entry of wild animals into villages. We will incur a huge loss when these animals stay in agri-field for a single night,” farmers said.

When the mating season starts, the quantum of destruction will be more, they said.

From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu: Project to study climate change on Agriculture

COIMBATORE: With climatic conditions playing a crucial role in agriculture, a project to study how the sector is affected by climate change is currently on in the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University with the area of focus being the Cauvery basin.

The ClimaRice project funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, was aimed at sustaining rice production under changing climatic conditions in Cauvery basin. TNAU scientists in collaboration with International Pacific Research centre, Hawaii and BIOF ORSK, Norway, are working on the project, University Vice-Chancellor Mr P Murugesa Bhoopathi said.

The project, which was originally sanctioned in Jan 2008 for two years, has since been extended upto November 2012, with a budget of Rs.4.15 crore and a Climate Control Chamber at a cost of Rs.60 lakh has been set up in the University, he said.

The project integrates all aspects of climate change in agriculture including adaptation, mitigation and socio economic components.

In addition, various adaptation and mitigation measures including water and nutrient management, microbial technologies to minimise methane emission from the rice fields have also been developed for dissemination, he said.

The project would result in generating a standard methodology to address climate change related issues with specific reference to agriculture and this standard protocol would be useful to other similar regions to develop measures to address the vulnerabi lities within the changing climate, Mr Bhoopathi said. – PTI

From BUSINESS LINE

Tamilnadu: Erode does well in paddy production

Increased yield attributed to System of Rice Intensification method

ERODE: In the backdrop of the disturbing news that the country will import rice for the first time in two decades, there’s some positive news as well.

Erode, an agrarian district, has been faring pretty well in paddy production and consistently at that.

In the current year, the Agriculture Department has so far brought 33,500 ha under paddy cultivation.

This is further expected go up, as the Department is yet to take in to account the cultivation in later part of the second season ‘Samba’.

On the rise: Erode district has been consistently good at paddy cultivation, though the country faces a shortage of rice. – Photo: M. Govarthan

An officer says farmers will cultivate paddy with seepage waters from Lower Bhavani Project canal and Kalingarayan Canal.

There will second cultivation in Thadapalli-Arakankottai area as well.

Once the figures are available the area under paddy is expected to be more than last year’s 48,912 ha. In 2007-08, the Department helped farmers bring 38,359 ha under the crop.

Of the 33,500 ha this year, the Department has brought 15,480 ha under the System of Rice Intensification method of cultivation.

This technique, which calls for increased spacing among paddy saplings, results in increased yield.

Figures available with the Department suggest that the increase will be as much as 1,500 kg a hectare.

The officer says the Department will be able to achieve the target of 16,400 ha for SRI for the current year once the figures for the second season are also available.

In the current year the Department projects 9,700 kg a hectare under SRI, as against an average yield of 6,540 kg from traditional cultivation practice. The officer says the Department has over the years promoted paddy cultivation by implementing a variety of Central and State governments’ schemes.

Under the Agriculture Technology Management Agency scheme, the officer says, the Department provides financial assistance to farmers to set up SRI demonstration plots.

The Department gives Rs. 4,000 a farmer for setting up the plots and it has achieved the target of setting up 138 plots across the district.

Further under the Union Government’s Integrated Cereal Development Programme the Department has set up SRI cluster.

The Government provides a subsidy for Rs. 3,000 an acre for setting up SRI clusters, with a cluster comprising 25 acres. In Erode 700 such clusters have been set up, the officer says.

These are in addition to the support the Department gives paddy farmers by supplying quality seeds at a subsidy. The initiatives the Department has taken have put Erode in a better position in the State, as in its average paddy production is higher than the State’s.

From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu-Namakkal: 16 watersheds created to boost rainfed agriculture

The scheme insists on Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise 

NAMAKKAL: To boost production under rainfed agriculture, 16 watersheds at an outlay of Rs 57.03 crore have been created in 9,505 hectares in Tiruchengode taluk in the district under the National Watershed Development Programme in Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) of the Union government.

As the bulk of rural poor are living in rainfed areas, the government has accorded highest priority to the holistic and sustainable development of rain-fed agriculture through Watershed Development approach based on the twin concepts of Integrated Watershed Management and Sustainable Farming System and also creation of sustained employment opportunities for the rural community including the landless.

Water Resource Development scheme

Water Resource Development scheme

These watersheds in Tiruchengode covering 30 villages will be executed by the Project Implementing Agency (PIA) comprising of an Assistant Executive Engineer, Agricultural Engineering Department and Assistant Director of Agriculture, Agriculture Department, Tiruchengode.

To prepare the project report, the scheme also insists on a strong Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercise.

NGOs invited

To assist and carry out the PRA exercises, two non-governmental organisations have also been invited to take part.

A PRA exercise meeting was carried out in Karumapuram watershed recently in which the President of the Karumapuram Panchayat, N. Jagannathan, along with local farmers took part.

The people shared their views with officials and emphasised on the local knowledge. People’s own appraisal was sought, analysed and later would be put into practice.

The exercise meeting widely discussed many problems, observed the facts directly on the field and discussed the solutions with the affected people.

The concepts of better utilization of available resources and the need to identify and prioritise the needs of locals were discussed.

Social mapping and Natural Resources mapping were constructed on the ground by the villagers in front of the Karumapuram Panchayat Office to offer an impression of the social and physical lay-out of the village as perceived by the villagers themselves.

After completion of all activities, each watershed development project was expected to achieve various measures for sustainable farming including development of drainage lines, participation of user groups in arable and non-arable lands, maintenance of assets etc.

Orientation

Orientation was given to improve their knowledge and upgrade technical/ management and community organisational skills to a level that was appropriate for the successful discharge of capabilities.

The PRA meeting was attended by officials. S. Durai, Joint Director of Agriculture, Namakkal presided over the PRA meeting.

A. Prabaharan, Deputy Director of Agriculture, A. Krishnamoorthi, Assistant Executive Engineer, District Watershed Development Agency, B. Muralidharan, Assistant Director of Agriculture and K. Ramachandran, Agricultural Officer were also present. Villagers took part in a social mapping exercise of their village.

From THE HINDU