Plastic waste pollutes River Vasishta at Attur

It is now a big sewer emanating foul odour

ATTUR: River Vasishta that once kept Attur and its neighbourhood green has become dirty and unholy.

Non-biodegradable: Plastic waste choking River Vasishta at Attur in Salem district. —Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

The river, which once supplied drinking water to the people who resided on its banks, is dying slowly with indiscriminate dumping of plastic garbage.

It supplied water for irrigation to over 10,000 hectares in Salem, Villupuram, Cuddalore and other areas.

The stretch of river near Attur town has become a big sewer emanating foul odour and has also become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that besiege residents at all hours of the day and night.

At one time, the river happened to be the livelihood resource for hundreds of farmers and drinking water for many more.

Cauvery River in Mettur, a source located some 120 kilometres away from Attur town is now supplying water to its residents.

Plastic waste has blocked water flow in the river.

Garbage mounds, the people here say, remain without being cleared for years with not a single attempt to remove them.

Despite repeated requests from people, farmers and environmentalists, the Attur municipality shows no interest in keeping the river clean.

“There is no proper rehabilitation scheme for the river which cuts through the town on the lines of Tirumanimutharu River rehabilitation project in Salem. The worst affected are the farmers downstream who still depend on its water for farming activities,” said a farmer.

When contacted, officials in Attur municipality claimed that they had been collecting garbage at the door steps under the solid waste management scheme.

But they have no clinching answer to the insensitive dumping of garbage on the river bed, thus killing the water body effectively.

From THE HINDU

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Stringent action for illegal felling of trees: Minister

Selvaraj inspects a private area near Geddhai where trees have been allegedly cut

Udhagamandalam: Steps will be taken to to prevent illegal tree felling, said Forest Minister N. Selvaraj while speaking to presspersons near Geddhai on Tuesday.

Pointing out that the amount of fine imposed does not match the offence, he felt that it should be increased.

Stating that the purpose of his visit was to inspect on the orders of the Chief Minister a private area near Geddhai where a large number of trees including valuable ones had allegedly been cut and a road laid to transport them, he claimed that it had been found that no valuable trees had been felled and the road was in existence for many decades. Only some trees used for fire wood had been cut.

District-level panel

Pointing out that there is a district-level committee to deal with applications for felling trees, Mr. Selvaraj said that stringent action would be taken against those who brought down trees without the clearance of the committee.

When asked about the proposed elephant corridor at Sigur near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, he said that the government will give its report to the High Court only after ensuring that the corridor was properly identified and the people are not affected.

Boar menace

He added that efforts would be made to tackle the wild boar menace in agricultural fields.

Among those present were the Khadi Board Minister, K. Ramachandran, the Conservator of Forests, R. Kannan, and the Field Director, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Rajiv K. Srivastava.

From THE HINDU

Erode: No licences, but sand miners plunder Bhavani river

BHAVANI (ERODE DIST): The placid Bhavani river shimmers under the morning skies at Servarayanpalayam village near Bhavani town. As the village women trickle in to the weed-ridden banks of Bhavani for a bath, five round, iron boats furiously sway in the waters. Follow the boats, and you realise it’s no innocuous fishing expedition. Wearing a tiny piece of cloth around their loins, the boatmen slip into the water and firmly plant a 20-foot long stick into the river. And then, the plundering of the Bhavani river sand begins, in broad daylight,

No licences or permission have been given by the Erode district administration for mining sand in Bhavani river. Yet these specially-crafted boats ruthlessly ravage the river bed. “We have not given any licences for mining sand in Bhavani river,” concedes a senior revenue official. The men in loin clothes sink deep into the waters and bring out bucketfuls of sand. In the next two hours, the five boats are almost half-full with sand.

Every day, from 6 am to 8 am, these boats raid the Bhavani for its brown sand. After the raid, the boats are parked on the banks and the water is drained from the sands with filters. Then they unload the sand on the river banks and leave. In the evenings, bullock carts or tractor trailers trundle in to collect the mounds of sand.

Normally boats are made of wood or animal hide. But these huge boats, around 15 feet in diameter, have been specially designed to mine sand in the river. “We get Rs 150 for mining a boat full of sand,” says Palaichamy, a local villager.

The morning scene unfolds in almost all villages near Bhavani town. From Servarayanpalayam to Thippichettipalayam, Seethapalayam, Chinnamolapalayam, Jembai and Aapakoodal, illegal sand mining flourishes with support of local villagers. “The powerful sand lobby contribute funds for building village temples and bribe the local leaders too. And when the police stop the mining, they gherao them,” says lawyer Papa Mohan, who had got a court decree against indiscriminate sand mining in Bhavani river bed.

According the Rule 38 (A) of the Tamil Nadu Minor Minerals Concessions rules, 1950, only the district collector is empowered to issue licences for sand mining in river bed. And mining can be done only on a 10-hectare land within the demarcated area as per the sketch clearly provided by the collector. And a plaque should be put up at the mining site giving details of the period of contract. Importantly, sand should not be mined beyond one metre from the existing sand bed level at the time of award of contract. “But powerful local politicians control the sand mining show. And none of these rules are followed in any of the districts,” rues a government geologist.

In Erode, mining goes on unchecked even without issue of licences, at the instance of a powerful district political leader, says a police official. “The moment we arrest the miners, we are pressured to drop the case and release them,” he says on condition of anonymity. And the Bhavani river remains a mute victim of sand mining and the polluting dyeing units that dots its banks.

From TOI

Dindigul: Dams reach full level

DINDIGUL: All major dams in Palani taluk have reached their full capacity and Varadhamanadhi dam has started overflowing since Tuesday, thanks to the sudden and sharp showers in the past 24 hours.

The entire inflow of 870 cusecs was discharged in to the river from Varadhamanadhi dam.

Storage level in the Palar Porundhalar reservoir reached its brim and Kudiraiyar dam level was inching towards to its total height of 80 feet.

The level crossed 76 feet in this reservoir. Inflow into the Marudhanadhi dam and several tanks near the hilly regions was good. The flow in all streams, including the Silver Cascade on Kodaikanal hill, was also good.

Nilakottai received highest rain and Palani recorded the lowest in the district. The sky was overcast on Wednesday and mild showers were experienced in some pockets.

The worst-affected were the people in Dindigul town. Almost, all prime roads in the town turned slushy and muddy, thanks to the inordinate delay in the completion of underground drainage work. Soil dumped on centre of the road after finishing the work spread on to other parts of the road making it slippery and unfit for riding or driving. Even pedestrians, particularly school children, too faced hardship. North and East Car streets, Main Road, AMC, Salai Road and Railway Station Road and the main road in Begampur were affected.

Total rainfall in the district was 110.4 mm and average rain 12.27 mm only.

From THE HINDU

Cuddalore: Veeranam tank to be deepened

CUDDALORE: As a permanent flood control measure it has been proposed to deepen the Veeranam tank, according to P. Seetharaman, District Collector.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that owing to excessive flow in feeder canals such as the Vadavar, Sengal Odai and Pappa Odai, the Veeranam tank surplussed during the recent rain.

However, to maintain water level at the safe height of 46 ft (maximum 47.5 ft), there was heavy discharge from the tank which, in turn, inundated farmlands and habitations downstream, particularly in the Chidambaram and Kattumannarkoil blocks.

After inspecting the flooded areas along with District Revenue Officer R. Natarajan, Mr. Seetharaman directed the officials not to release water from the tank but for 77 cusecs for the Chennai Metrowater.

Following the suggestion of the Chief Engineer (Project formulation—water resources) of the Public Works Department, the Collector had formulated certain proposals to find a permanent solution to recurring floods.

These included setting up storage points on the course of uploading streams and letting out water into the tank only when required. Due to sand dunes and dense undergrowth, the actual water level in the tank was far below its stated level of 47.5 ft.

The silt to be obtained from deepening the tank could be utilised by ayacutdars. Mr. Seetharaman further said that heavy silt was the common problem at the tanks and lakes in the district.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Campaign to check environmental degradation in the Nilgiris

Students from schools in and around Kotagiri participate

Udhagamandalam: A signature campaign to enhance awareness about the growing threat to the environment of the Nilgiris was organized under the aegis of the recently- formed Nilgiris Environmental Joint Forum at Kotagiri on Thursday.

Eco-friendly move: Students participating in an environmental awareness signature campaign at Kotagiri on Thursday.

Among those who participated were a large number of students from many schools in and around Kotagiri.

Addressing the gathering, green activist Jeevanandham of Pasumai Iyakkam said that places in the plains like Erode depended on Western Ghats for water and exhorted the people residing in the hills to protect it at all costs.

The Coordinator of the campaign Advocate K.Vijayan said that short-sighted actions of the authorities and the people of the district over the years have led to the present sorry state of affairs. He said that the trend has to be reversed.

Advocate Bhojan said that legal remedies can be sought for the environmental problems plaguing the district.

Social activist Vinodh Don Bosco said that the unprecedented happenings of last month relating to floods and landslides had brought together concerned citizens and organizations.

He added that the campaign would be extended to Coonoor and Udhagamandalam.

Stating that the people are now aware of the consequences of lop-sided development and violation of nature’s laws, he said that the Forum will take the lead in checking activities that violate the ethos of the hills.

Environmental degradation here will have drastic impact not only in the district but also in many other parts of the State.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Inclement weather impedes restoration works in district

Ooty-Coonoor stretch may be opened for light vehicles soon

Hostile conditions: Bad weather affected restoration works at landslide-hit Manthada, near Udhagamandalam, on Wednesday.– Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy

Udhagamandalam: The landslide hit Ooty-Coonoor stretch of the national highway will be thrown open to light vehicles on Thursday provided the conditions were conducive, Nilgiris Collector Anandrao V. Patil told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

Initially only descending traffic would be allowed to use the road where temporary repairs had been carried out by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), he added.

The administration had accorded high priority to opening the stretch owing to the difficulties faced by the commuters, he said and added that the Katteri-Coonoor section of the national highway was thrown open to bus traffic on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, bad weather hampered restoration works in many parts of the district. Owing to thick mist, visibility was reduced to just a few metres. After a short respite, wet weather had again become a source of concern in this hill station.

From THE HINDU