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Free soil for farmers stopped after charges of diversion to kilns
The State government’s scheme, which permitted farmers to lift the nutrient-loaded alluvial soil from water bodies, has been stopped in the Otteri lake in the district, following complaints of the sand being diverted to brick kilns.
According to officials, farmers were allowed to excavate soil from 643 of the 974 tanks in Vellore district. Around 9,360 farmers removed nearly 12.18 lakh cubic feet of soil from the tanks since April 7 this year.
Allowing farmers to remove soil using their own equipment also resulted in the tanks being deepened by about 3 to 4 feet, which in turn increased their water storage capacity, officials said.
However, the scheme has been stopped in the Otteri lake, which is located on the Tiruvannamalai road in Vellore. The lake was originally a source of water catering to Vellore residents.
With an intention to remove encroachments on the lake, authorities invited farmers to remove the soil. Farmers who lived in nearby villages hired earth moving equipment and tractors for the purpose. In a span of one month, starting from June 16, nearly 3.50 lakh cubic feet of soil has been mined.
But, farmers are now a dejected lot after the authorities stopped them from mining the lake a few days ago. They acted after receiving complaints about the soil being diverted to brick making units.