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Monday, September 18, 2006

NHRC urged to intervene

Presidents of 30 panchayats in Vilathikulam constituency in Tuticorin district have requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to take action to stop illegal sand mining from Vaippar river bed in the district.

In a memorandum to NHRC member R S Kalha, they said the water table had depleted considerably and sea water had seeped into their borewells making water undrinkable and unfit for irrigation purposes. Illegal sand mining was affecting the livelihood of more than 250 villages, they said.

The quarries violated all government guidelines and had been operating from the check dam site and also from near the borewells which get recharged during rainy seasons.

They said their plea for another check dam near the coastal area to prevent water from going waste into the sea had also been put on hold, though the government had sanctioned Rs 7 crore. Drinking water now cost Rs 2 per pot in the area. The government, they said, could get a bad name if the sand mining was not stopped immediately.

Meanwhile, People's Watch, an NGO and human rights organisation, which sent a fact-finding team to the area, said that the panchayat presidents also charged the police with terrorising them and protecting the sand miners.

Police had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144. The police, instead of helping people get water, were harassing them, the release alleged.

Source: Chennai Online

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