Farmers in Erode district claim water meant for irrigation is illegally used by commercial companies and in non-farm areas.

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A pipeline crossing the LBP main canal at mile 88, carrying water from an ayacut area to a non-ayacut area in Chennimalai Union, Erode district

A pipeline crossing the LBP main canal at mile 88, carrying water from an ayacut area to a non-ayacut area in Chennimalai Union, Erode district. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Lower Bhavani Project (LBP) canal’s ayacut farmers in Erode district, have claimed that water is being drawn illegally from the canal for non-ayacut areas, and is also being widely used for commercial purposes by many companies.

The LBP canal has a total ayacut area of ​​2.07 lakh acres, spread across the districts of Erode, Karur and Tiruppur. It includes, 1,82,566.75 acres of land in Sathyamangalam, Gobichettipalayam, Bhavani, Perundurai, Erode, Modakkurichi and Kodumudi blocks in Erode district; 20,456.31 acres in the Kangeyam block in Tiruppur district and 3,976.94 acres in the Pugalur block in Karur district.

Water from Bhavanisagar dam is released into the canal during two seasons, from January to April and from August to December every year. Water release during each season covers 1.03 lakh acres.

KV Ponnaiyan, secretary of Keel Bhavani Ayacut Nila Urimaiyalargal Sangam, a farmers’ association, told NEInfo that water is released for agricultural purposes, to enable farmers carry out farming. “But, water is the key raw material for beverage companies and mineral water companies. Hence, they dig wells near the canal and steal water and use it for commercial purposes,” he claimed.

The farmer also said that pipelines are laid from ayacut areas to non-ayacut areas and water is tapped illegally for use. “Many have purchased hundreds of acres in non-ayacut areas at a meager price and have also purchased a few acres in ayacut areas. They dig wells, lay pipelines and transfer water from ayacut areas to non-ayacut areas,” he alleged.

A Government Order (No. 2259) issued by the Public Works Department dated November 3, 1967 said pumping water from wells, located within 50 meters of the canal, is allowed only during the off-season and not during the irrigation season, and that water should be supplied only to areas within the ayacut areas. “But, in blatant violation of these regulations, several companies have obtained permission for wells and draw water that is meant for agriculture,” another member of the association said and claimed that companies that manufacture M-sand also steal water through lorries.

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