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Only 58-canal scheme can save region, say farmers

With scanty rainfall in the region, it was troubled time for farmers following the severe drought in 2016. However, it seems that 2017 will not bring any relief for farmers of the southern districts as a similar situation stares them in the face. Moreover, the water woes are slated to escalate with key water schemes in the districts still unfinished.

Only 58-canal scheme can save region, say farmers
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Madurai and other southern districts had suffered from widespread drought in 2016 owing to severe shortage of rainfall. Owing to the continuous shortage of rainfall, Vaigai river bed had become almost dry. This, in turn, has greatly affected Usilampatti Taluk.

The Usilampatti municipality had been declared critically drought-hit by the district and farmers claim that the unfinished 58-canal scheme can alone save them from drought. The 58-canal scheme was framed in 1996 and was implemented in 1999 with Rs 33.81 crores. After 17 years, the cost of the project has crossed Rs 75 crores. Through the project, water from Vaigai dam would be diverted to the 58 arid villages in Usilampatti to increase farming in the region. 

Because of this, an extra 1,000 hectares would be brought under cultivation and there would be an increase of 3,000 tons of food grain. Farmers claim that despite several petitions and protests, the project had not been completed. Speaking to DTNext, Sivaprakasam, deputy secretary, Usilai Taluk 58 canal irrigation farmers association, claimed that for several years the officials have been promising to complete the scheme but are yet to do so. The Government and officials should take steps to immediately complete the project for the welfare of farmers, demanded Sivaprakasam. 

Chinnathevar, Organising Committee Secretary of the farmers association, claimed that 96 percent of the work has been completed and Rs 4 crore had recently been allotted, but there is no transparency in the ongoing work. 

Even Madurai Collector K.Veera Raghav Rao, had promised the farmers in the previous grievance meeting held in the month of February that the scheme would be completed in 10 days but work is yet to be completed. Farmers of Usilampatti region can start cultivating this year only after the project is completed and if not, the water woes will never end claimed Chinnathevar. 

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