Eviction drive taken up to rid irrigation channel of encroachments

Brings cheer to farmers with lands at the tail-end areas

TIRUNELVELI: Farmers having cultivable lands in the tail-end region of the Paappaankulam irrigation channel under the Karuppanadhi irrigation system in the district are the most jubilant lot now as illegal constructions made on the channel for about 6.5 km that effectively blocked the flow of water for the past 40 years have been removed, thanks to the efforts of Collector M. Jayaraman. The four decade-long unresolved problem came to light at the farmers’ grievance day meeting on February 19 in which a farmer raised the issue of the encroachment on the channel.

Free flow:Illegal construction made on Paappaankulam channel being removed at Kadayanallur. — Photo: A. Shaikmohideen

Reacting sharply over this issue, Mr. Jayaraman instructed the revenue officials to identify the illegal constructions built along the stretch of about 6.5 km on the irrigation channel and to chart out an action plan to remove them. “Illegal constructions openly challenge the authority of the official machinery even as denying a section of the people their genuine rights and hence the interests of the voiceless section of the society should be protected at any cost. The revenue officials should prepare a detailed report on this issue at the earliest so that the eviction drive can be started without any further delay,” the Collector ordered.

When the mass contact programme was conducted at Krishnapuram on March 10, Mr. Jayaraman, while explaining in detail the history behind encroachments on Paappaankulam channel and the action to be taken, assured that the eviction drive would be started only after making proper alternative arrangements for the affected.

“The public should understand the problems being created by the illegal constructions… In this particular case, the flow of water through this channel to the tail-end regions has been obstructed completely and the channel has been transformed into a drainage channel. Since we’ll ensure an alternative for the people to be affected by this eviction drive, everyone concerned should cooperate with the district administration,” Mr. Jayaraman said.

The encroachment eviction drive was started last week by involving five earthmovers and personnel drawn from various departments.

“We never dreamt that our lands that remained dry for the past forty years due to the encroachments on the irrigation channel, would become productive once again. We are so happy that over several hundreds of acres falling under this irrigation channel are going to get succour from this channel and eventually ensure revenue for us. We’re really thankful to the Collector,” said K. Balasubramanian, a farmer from Kadayanallur.


‘City Clean Campaign’ in July

To remove plastic waste within Nellai Corporation limits

TIRUNELVELI: Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation, which has identified 124 places under its jurisdiction where ‘waste plastic mounds’ have been created by its residents, has decided to involve its entire workforce along with volunteers drawn from schools and colleges in its ‘City Clean Campaign’ to remove this highly hazardous materials to be destroyed safely.

Laid waste:Plastic waste dumped in the irrigation channel taking water to Nainarkulam near Lala Chatra corner in Tirunelveli town. Photo: A_Shaikmohideen

After the district administration and the Department of Environment decided to impose a ban on the production, sale and use of non-recyclable non-degradable plastic materials, particularly, plastic bags, serious steps were initiated to clean up the already piled up plastic wastes by involving India Cements Limited (ICL) in this noble exercise.

As per the memorandum of understanding signed with ICL, the urban local bodies of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Nagercoil should collect the plastic wastes being generated in their respective areas and send it in the lorries to the premises of cement manufacturing unit, where the hazardous non-degradable materials would be finely shredded to be used as supplement fuel along with the regular fuel, coal.


Subsequently, the ICL management spent over Rs. 1 crore for making some modifications in the machineries and installed equipment to make this process effective.

Even as this exercise is going on, the corporation has planned to put an end to the creation of plastic heaps under its jurisdiction while cleaning the existing stacks of plastics.

As per this new initiative, the plastic waste dumped at 124 places in various places under the Corporation will be removed during the ‘City Clean Campaign’ to be jointly organised by its 700-odd conservancy workers and over 1,800 students and volunteers drawn from various schools, colleges and also from the residents’ welfare associations.

“This camp will be conducted in the first week of July on a particular day simultaneously across the corporation to clean the plastic hillocks. After the conduct of this campaign, we’ll initiate very stern action against those who produce, sell and use the non-degradable plastic products as production, sale and use of these hazardous materials within corporation limits have been banned. Residents should hand over plastic waste only to the conservancy workers hereafter,” said Commissioner N. Subbaian.


Farm inputs given to eight farmers

  The move is aimed at increasing the area under red gram cultivation

Tirunelveli: Collector M. Jayaraman distributed farm inputs to the tune of Rs. 5, 000 each to eight farmers here on Monday.

In a bid to increase the area under red gram cultivation, the inputs were being provided under intensification of red gram cultivation through demonstration scheme under National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP).

The distribution of inputs included quality seeds of high yielding varieties of red gram, micro nutrient mixtures, bio fertilizers, seed treatment chemicals, weedicides and plant protection chemicals.

Task forceconstituted

In order to meet the gap in production and demand, the state government has constituted a special task force for preparing an action plan to enhance pulse production.

According to a press release, allocation was given for eight hectares of red gram demonstrations under NADP in the district. Joint Director of Agriculture, S. Subramanian, Deputy Director of Agriculture, S. Devasahayam and PA to Collector (Agriculture) M. Duraipandian were present.


Non-degradable plastic products, a threat to environment

Two-day seminar on ‘global warming’ under way

TIRUNELVELI: The Tamil Nadu Science Forum’s two-day seminar on ‘Global warming’ commenced at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University here on Friday.

Addressing the seminar, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, R. Vasuki, said that though awareness of global warming could be created across the world only after the later part of the 20th century, no consensus on the measures to be taken to effectively check the global threat could be arrived at even now.

She cautioned that the non-recyclable and non-degradable plastic products would be a serious threat to the environment. Kundrakudi Ponnambala Desigar, Registrar, MSU, S. Manickam, Vice-Chancellor, MSU, R.T. Sabapathy Mohan, and others spoke.


Sea intrudes coastal areas

TIRUNELVELI: After the sea erosion swallowed a road near the shoreline and now inching towards the houses, District Collector M. Jayaraman, accompanied by Radhapuram MLA M. Appavu, Tirunelveli MP S.S. Ramasubbu and top officials from the Departments of Fisheries, revenue and PWD visited the coastal hamlet on Tuesday to ascertain the situation there and the measures to be taken immediately to check further damage to the properties.

According to Uvari panchayat president S.V. Antony, the sea had advanced towards the shore further for about 100 feet in the past few years and could damage the houses when strong wind would hit the coast between mid-June and August.

“We’ve to take concrete measures immediately to save the public from the menacingly advancing sea… When the westerly wind starts lashing the coast during July and August, situation may become worse. So we’ve to act immediately to protect the public and their properties,” said Mr. Appavu.


After inspecting the damage, Mr. Jayaraman said a proposal on constructing the concrete structure at a cost of Rs. 7.50 crore to neutralise the giant waves would be forwarded to the State Government shortly.


Tirunelveli: Villagers demand regular water supply

TIRUNELVELI: Residents of Vaalveechu Rastha under Maanur union in the district submitted petition to Collector M. Jayaraman on Monday demanding regular and adequate supply of drinking water to their hamlet.

Once or twice

The petitioners said their village, a beneficiary hamlet under Sankarankovil Combined Drinking Water Programme, was getting drinking water once or twice a month and hence the villagers had to store the drinking water for about 15 to 20 days.

No efforts taken

Though several petitions had been forwarded to the officials concerned, no effort had been taken to ensure regular and adequate supply of drinking water to Vaalveechu Rastha.

Hence, they appealed to the Collector to instruct the officials to take remedial measures to sort out the problem.


Global warming, climate change pose threat to coral reefs in Gulf of Mannar

Bleached corals will recover only if the temperature level comes down, says expert

TIRUNELVELI: The coral reef wealth of the Gulf of Mannar, which is being conserved through joint efforts of various governmental, non-governmental and research agencies, is now facing a different kind of threat — global warming and consequent climate change.

UNDER THREAT:Bleached coral off the Mandapam coast in Gulf of Mannar.

Coral reefs, known as rain forests of the sea, are a source of food security and livelihood options for hundreds of millions people, coastal defence and tourist hotspots. The Gulf of Mannar (GoM) is one of the four important coral reefs in India and thousands of artisanal fisher folk are dependant on fishery resources from this reef area.

Though direct human impacts have resulted in vast destruction of the reef area and associated flora and fauna for the last three or four decades, strengthened enforcement of law, inclusion of corals under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and enhanced awareness among the coastal community of coral reef conservation have arrested the decay.

After the tsunami and various conservation and eco-developmental activities, coral mining was completely stopped in 2005 and there has also been a reduction in destructive fishing activities near the reef. These factors have resulted in the enhancement of live coral cover from 37 per cent in 2005 to 43 per cent in 2009 owing to stable substratum, initiation of coral restoration on six islands, successful reproduction and high coral recruitment.

However, the effect of global climate change is always a threat to the corals, as they are very sensitive, and also to the fish population associated with reefs. The impact of climate change was clearly visible in 1998 in the Indian Ocean with many reefs, previously regarded as near pristine, seriously affected. The corals of GoM were also affected in 1998.

Tuticorin-based Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, has been regularly conducting coral reef monitoring in GoM since 2005 with permanent monitoring sites and annual bleaching has been observed during summer every year since 2005 owing to elevated sea surface temperature.

“The percentage of bleaching in live coral cover depends mainly on the wind, water currents, rainfall, turbidity and depth. The maximum affected corals are in the shallow waters – ranging from depths of 0.50 metres to 2 metres.

“This summer, the coral bleaching was observed from the second week of April when the average surface water temperature was between 29.1 degree Celsius and 33 degree Celsius in Mandapam; 29.3 degree Celsius and 33.1 Celsius in Keezhakkari ; and 29.3 degree Celsius to 33.6 degree Celsius in Tuticorin,” J.K. Patterson Edward, Director, SDMRI, told The Hindu. The overall percentage of coral bleaching is 10.6 on the Mandapam coast, while it is 7.5 and 9.3 on Keezhakkarai and Tuticorin coast.

The maximum bleaching of 12.50 per cent has been recorded on Shingle Island (Mandapam coast); 9.4 per cent on Appa Island (Keezhakkaari coast) and 14.7 per cent on Kariyachalli Island (Tuticorin coast).

The most affected species are branching corals such as like Acropora nobilis, A. formosa, A. cythera, Montipora foliosa, and Pocillopora damicornis and massive corals such as Porites solida and Favia pallida.

The partially bleached coral species are Porites lutea, Favia pallida, Favites abditta and Echinopora lamellose. The coral species such as Porites lichen, Goniastrea rectiformis, Favites abditta, Platygyra lamellosa, Hydnopora microconos, Symphyllia recta, Acropora intermedia and Montipora divaricata have started to bleach and if the temperature level prevails, they will be completely bleached soon.

Among the bleached coral colonies, 40 per cent are recruits; 35 per cent are of intermediate size; and 25 per cent are large colonies. The bleached corals are in stressful state. They will recover only if the temperature level comes down owing to change of climatic condition.

Wildlife Warder, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, M. Sundarakumar, said any external disturbance in the form of heavy trawling would destroy the already affected coral reef. “It is essential that the coral areas should not be disturbed by the fisher folk by any kind of illegal fishing and other activities such as trap fishing, trawling, seaweed collection, shore seine operation, ornamental fish collection etc. The Marine National Park authorities have also intensified the vigil in order to avoid any human disturbance in the reef areas,” Mr. Sundarakumar said.

By P. Sudhakar From THE HINDU