After waiting for four years for the Tiruvallur district administration and the Public Works Department to revive a 300-year-old tank that served as a lifeline for their village, the 1,000-odd families living in Keelacheri near Mappedu, Tiruvallur district, have now taken up the task of desilting the tank and rebuilding the bund claiming that they have lost faith in the government.
Fed up with this total neglect, Jesudoss and other villages pooled together private funds and collected up to Rs 10 lakh to begin renovation work in the tank. “We brought in earthmovers and dug out the silt and are in the process of rebuilding damaged portions of the bund. We hope to finish all work by July as the rain in Andhra Pradesh is likely to bring some inflow into the tank. We want to save every drop of water from this year and do not plan to wait for the government to act,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tiruvallur district officials claim that the villagers are not justified in taking up the activity on their own as there are legalities involved. “Firstly, the entire district is infamous for sand mining activities. We do not know what the villagers plan to do with the soil that is being dug out. If they sell it or use it for making profits, we will have to take action. Even otherwise, water bodies belong to the government, and even though the villagers’ efforts might be well-intentioned, they cannot do any desilting or renovation of PWD tanks on their own,” said a senior revenue official in Tiruvallur.
Tiruvallur Collector R Maheshwari told this newspaper that the district administration would take up the matter immediately. “We will find out what exactly is going on and help the villagers in every way we can. If the tank needs to be desilted, we will coordinate with the agencies concerned and take up the activity,” she said.