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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuticorin villagers fight sand quarrying

People living in forty villages in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu have taken matters into their own hands.

They have launched a movement to stop the state government from quarrying sand on the Vaipaar river bed.

Sand mining could deprive them of their only source of ground water.

It's a fight to save the River Vaipaar from sand mining in Tuticorin district.

The seasonal river, which is just three kilometer away from the sea, is the only source of ground water for over thirty villages with a population of about forty thousand.

"If we allow sand quarrying, all of us will have to starve. We can manage without food. But how will you save people without water to drink," said a villager.

Over the years, illegal sand mining has depleted the river bed upto fifteen feet. Sea water has seeped in, making the ground water saline and unfit for consumption in fifteen villages.

To make things worse, now the district administration has decided to start quarrying on the river, something the local people are determined to stop at any cost.

"If sea water seeps in, nobody can live here. We will have to vacate the village," added another villager.

"We never used to take water for our cattle while grazing. Now ground water has gone down and there is no water," said the villager.

While the district Collector is out of station, the officials in charge are unable to take a decision.

"We've understood the apprehension of the villagers. The Collector is away. Soon after he comes we'll take a final decision on this," said Sudarmanipandian, RDO, Kovilpatti.

The AIADMK government had brought sand quarrying under the direct control of the government to boost it's revenue. The DMK government has followed suit.

And any living river is looked at as a goose laying golden eggs. The helpless people are hoping against hope that the government will spare the river which is their lifeline.

Source: NDTV

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