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‘Want of funds cannot delay Athikadavu project’

People of rural Coimbatore and Tirupur dist had begun celebrating from Thursday itself even before the Finance Minister D Jayakumar completed reading out the proposals and allocations for next year in the state budget. Distributing sweets and lighting crackers, the farmers and villagers celebrated the Rs 250 crore allotted for the long pending Athikadavu-Avinashi Groundwater Recharge scheme.

‘Want of funds cannot delay Athikadavu project’
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Members in front of a newly-inaugurated branch office

Coimbatore

Athikadavu-Avinashi Project Struggle Committee Federation organiser K. Subramaniam told DTNext that the announcement has provided a ray of hope to people of those regions, who now believe that the project will be implemented. “Ground water table has gone below 1,600 feet and 1,700 feet here and immediate implementation of the project alone can save this region from becoming a desert. These funds should be utilised this year itself,” he said. 

Subramaniam added that the government should also sanction extra funds if needed to complete the project at the earliest, as what has been sanctioned is only a portion of the multi crore project. “The government has given two proposals for the project at Rs 3,523 crore and Rs 1,800 crore. The first is an open canal project while the other is a lift pumping project from the Kalingarayan Canal,” he said. At this juncture, he recalled a third proposal that they had given to the government at Rs 830 crore to implement the project through pipelines. “We prepared our proposal with the help of senior retired officials holding the ranks of Chief Engineer and Superintendent Engineer of the Public Works Department, Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage (TWAD) Board and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO),” he added. He expressed confidence that their proposal was a viable one compared to the projects proposed by the government. The struggle committee also thanked the farmers, villagers and representatives of various political and non political organisations who took part in the protests organised by them so far. 

Hailing the announcement, celebrations were organised in Karamadai, Annur, Avinashi, Sevur, Perumanallur, Kunnathur, Puliyampatti, Perundurai, Uthukuli and Chennimalai on Thursday. 

People’s panel to check progress of project 

On one hand villagers who are active members of the Athikadavu-Avinashi Project Struggle Committee Federation celebrated the allotment of Rs 250 crore for the long pending project in the budget and also thanked the CM. On the other, they are unwilling to relax just because they have an assurance.

“There are many important projects that have been sanctioned but have been left incomplete as there was no pressure from the people. This should not become one of them. On Sunday, we opened 44 village-level branches in Coimbatore and Tirupur in areas to be covered under the project to strengthen our organisation,” a senior member said.

This takes the number of village level branches of the organisation to 189, from the time they started establishing such offices for the federation in mid-December last year. “We have decided to open over 30 branch offices by the fourth week of April in the seventh phase,” a representative said. 

“These village-level branches are already clearing Seemai Karuvelam shrubs from the dried up waterbodies in their villages and desilting them without support from the government. It is our village and our waterbody. We will continue cleaning them though the government is also going to take up such works,” one of the participants, R. Vijayakumari said.

On the other hand, the branches of the federation are also gearing up to stand by the side of the government if the administration faces difficulty in acquiring land for the project. Meanwhile, another organiser added that they would soon announce a deadline for the government to kickstart the project, or resort to strong protests like the ones they have organised.

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