Water scarcity remains a perennial problem

While farmers want check dams, people in hill area seek ST certificate, patta for land

Though agriculture is the major economic activity in the Anthiyur Assembly constituency, water scarcity remains a perennial problem for farmers as promises by politicians to construct check dams and divert water are yet to be fulfilled.

The farmers have been demanding check dams across Maniyachi Pallam stream and at Valukkuparai, both in Bargur hills, and diverting the water to Varattupallam Reservoir.

Though the projects will serve people in plains, many in the hill area oppose them as they feel that water diversion will adversely affect forest resources, wild animals, people, cattle and agricultural lands.

The storage capacity of the reservoir, located at the foothills of Bargur hills, is less than one tmc and deepening the reservoir is the only solution to enhance storage.

Also, they wanted a check dam at Thoni Maduvu in Kolathur Taluk in Salem district besides extending the West Canal of Mettur Dam to irrigate farm lands.

Betel leaves grown in Anthiyur is no longer a lucrative crop as farmers seek Geographical Indication tag to tap wider markets.

Over 20,000 and odd people living in 33 hamlets in Bargur hills continue to seek ST community certificates, patta for land, mobile network connectivity, healthcare and adequate public transport facility, higher secondary school and priority for local people in appointments in government jobs in the hill area. Most of them have mortgaged their tamarind trees to private lenders for a meagre sum and interest-free loans to get them released from the debt is yet to happen.

In the absence of adequate transport facilities, people are unable to market their produce directly, paving the way for exploitation by middlemen.

Without sustainable income, many families migrate to plains leading to the children being drop-outs and turning as child labour. Also, locals seek more concrete steps to save the indigenous breeds of Bargur cattle.

The constituency was represented seven times by the AIADMK, thrice by DMK and once by Pattali Makkal Katchi. DMK’s A.G. Venkadachalam, who unsuccessfully contested in 2016, takes on AIADMK’s K.S. Shanmugavel this time.

Both candidates promised to solve the water problem and also improve the livelihood of the farming community.

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