A canal that has gone off track in Madurai

A weak track will be an invitation to disaster

MADURAI: The ‘crossing’ commences early in the morning. It lasts late into the night. Students, workers, commuters and elderly people from residential areas take these narrow lanes at the back of TVS Nagar, climb up the Madurai-Tirumangalam railway track, get down on the other side and get into a dingy alley to reach the arterial Tirupparankundram Road at Palanganatham. In between, several trains cross the track.

OBNOXIOUS:Sewage water stagnating near T.V.S.Nagar Railway line in Madurai. — Photo: S. James.

Ever since the work of construction of a subway linking the TVS Nagar Road with Palanganatham Junction was taken up, leading to the closure of the road, people have been frequently taking this short but very risky route to reach the nearest Palanganatham bus stop.

The path once taken to reach Palanganatham in a hurry has turned into a routine. Besides two openings, a third path has been created by bringing down a fence on the TVS Nagar side. Those driving two and four-wheelers prefer the nearest Alagappan Nagar and a little circuitous Jaihindpuram Main Road to reach the Tirupparankundram Road. The problem does not end here.

People climb up the track, look to right and left and at the signals and climb down. From three openings on the TVS Nagar side, they enter the alley which provides room for just one person to walk through. The cement slabs, which barely cover the sewage line that occupies a major portion of the length of the alley, provide a peep into the waste – plastic and organic – that goes down the drain. Most of the slabs are broken and a missed step results in a damaged knee.

The drain, which snaked its way parallel to the track, has been blocked at two places now, in view of the construction work. As a result, there is a huge pool of sewage abutting the railway line. The vent, which once allowed passage for surplus water from the Madakulam tank to reach Kovalan Nagar, is chocked with garbage.

The drain used to be a storm water and surplus water carrier not very long ago. It has degenerated into a drain, recalled K. Chandrasekaran, a resident. After crossing the Tirupparankundram Road, it branched off into two. While the main canal ran up to Avaniapuram, the sub-canal went to Kovalan Nagar. The water that flowed in the canal was meant for irrigation. The flat bed of the defunct water carrier has been encroached on both sides, creating an alley. The drain carries the waste generated by the food joints, business establishments and marriage halls that do not have a link to the underground drainage on Tirupparankundram Road.

A walk down the alley is not only risky but also nauseating. The foul smell generated by the drain is unbearable. In the absence of any lighting, women using the passage in the night are at risk. The walls on both sides are so high that even a shout would not attract attention on any side.

The added problem of the drain is proliferation of the mosquito population in the area. Residents on one flank of the railway line complain of a mysterious fever striking them. But a graver threat is to the railway line itself. “Water stagnation for a longer period will weaken the ballast support for the track. Worse will be the situation during monsoon season,” said N. Vaidyanathan, former Joint Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, a resident of TVS Nagar. A weak track would be an invitation to disaster. Over 20 express trains pass through the track daily, many of them during night or early morning. But they are now operated at slow speed due to the construction work and this enables the people crossing the track to wait.

Many people, including children and the aged, use the narrow concrete platform on both sides of the track to reach home or school. At high speed, a miscalculation in crossing the track will mean threat to life.

S. Annamalai – From THE HINDU

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Karnataka: State to develop green belt along irrigation canals

The Karnataka government is planning to take up a massive programme to develop green belt along the irrigation canals that are over 100,000 km in the state. The department of irrigation has prepared an action plan in this regard based on former bureaucrat A N Yellappa Reddy Committee recommendations, state minister major irrigation Basavaraj Bommai said.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of International Conference on Horticulture, organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, and Dr Prem Nath Agricultural Sciences Foundation, here today, he said the main objective of developing green belt along the irrigation canals was to enable farmers earn extra income and also to avoid soil erosion on either sides of the canals.

“The state has over 100,000 km of irrigation canals along the Cauvery, Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. We will take up planting of teak, hone and firewood trees in these river belts in a phased manner in the next three years. We will empower farmers in these areas to grow regionally important trees and provide budgetary support for the programme during the next budget. The farmers will not only plant trees in cooperation with forest, agriculture and horticulture departments, but also maintain the green belt,” Bommai said.

He said the irrigation department is also planning to undertake soil health detection programme starting January in the Cauvery and Krishna river catchment areas. To begin with 5,000 acres area in each of the two river belts will be taken up. Under the programme, the department will test the soil for various chemical contents and issue a soil health card to the farmers, so that they can take up measures to improve the soil. This will help not only conserve water but also increase foodgrain production, he said.

Earlier, speaking at the inauguration of international conference on horticulture, he said the state needs to take up short term and long-term measures to increase the horticulture production. The farmers should extensively make use of drip irrigation and sprinkler system to increase productivity, he said.

Karnataka governor H R Bharadwaj, who inaugurated the conference, said the country needs to arrest food price rise and ensure food security for all.

The governments should think beyond giving minimum support price to farmers for their produce to enhance food production. The farmer needs to be given social security so that he will concentrate on increasing the food production, he said.

Over 700 professionals, farmers, industrialists and policy makers from different countries of Asia, Europe, West Asia and USA are attending the four-day conference. Around 650 research papers are being presented at the conference.

From BusinessStandard