Aaththurkulam desilting begins after decades


Farmers of 16 villages, getting water from the irrigation tank in Aaththur, are so elated as the desilting of Aaththurkulam, a waterbody with an extent of 417 acres, commenced on Friday.

When K. Kanimozhi, MP, participated in the gram sabha meeting at Mela Aaththur last year along with then MLA Anita R. Radhakrishnan, now Minister for Fisheries, the prime appeal made to the MP was that the irrigation tank, belonging to Public Works Department and nourishing the crop on over 2,222 acres in this area, be desilted.

Besides nourishing the crops, mostly paddy, banana and betel leaf, the sprawling waterbody, situated just 7 km from the seashore, is preventing seawater intrusion into the ranches.

“If the waterbody, now submerged by thorny bushes and water weeds is not desilted, the seawater will enter the land. Besides spoiling our farming operations, it will also deny us good drinking water. Though officials had reportedly spent ₹ 50 lakh for desilting and strengthening the bunds of the waterbody, we cannot see any desirable change here. So, the waterbody and the supply channels should be desilted completely,” the farmers appealed to Ms. Kanimozhi.

Though the pandemic-induced lockdown had derailed the normal functioning of the official machinery, the MP had roped in a non-governmental organization – Environmentalist Foundation of India – into the proposed desilting of Aaththurkulam and the NGO had subsequently applied to the Collector seeking permission for desilting the waterbody.

After Collector K. Senthil Raj gave the formal permission, the exercise commenced on Friday, much to the jubilation of the farmers. Besides desilting the irrigation tank, the inlet and outlet structures are also being desilted.

“The soil to be removed from the irrigation tank as part of the desilting will be used to strengthen the bunds. Moreover, sand mounds will be created within this waterbody with native species plants at vantage points so that the birds can nest in these spots,” said Ms. Kanimozhi, who has planned to plant around 950 saplings of neem, palm and pongamia in and around this waterbody.

When asked about the deadline for completing this exercise, she said: “You will see a new-look Aaththurkulam before the onset of northeast monsoon this year.”

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