finding on the onslaught of groundwater
By Sakthi Sugars and Coco Cola Combine in Padamathur in Sivagangai,
The onslaught on groundwater by Sakthi Sugars and the Coca Cola
bottling plant in Padamathur village in Sivagangai is creating a situation
whereby hundreds of irrigation wells are going dry and thousands of acres
of prime agricultural land are turning desert. The onslaught is so severe
that, if not stopped, the situation may lead to an agro-ecological disaster
and the emergence of a new class of destitutes in the area.
A fact find team consisting members of Tamilnadu legislative assembly
Mr. Nanmaran, Mr. Hemachandran and Mr.C.K. Karunakaran of the
communist party of India (Maxist) along with social activists from the
Campaign for Right to Livelihood and Food Security Tamilnadu, visited
Kanoor, Kanakkankudi, Kuttanoor, Rajagambeeram, Madapuram, Thirupachethi,
Thirupuvanam and Padamathur Villages. One common
feature in identifying these villages that they are situated within a
radius of 7 km from the vaigai riverbed where Sakthi Sugars Coca cola
combine have installed two pumping stations for extracting ground water.
Besides interacting with a cross section of people including representatives
of farmers organizations, representatives of farmers organizations, elected
representatives of Panchayat Raj Institutions and groups of women, the
team also saw for itself more than twenty open irrigation wells and three
pumping stations that supply dirking water.
changing for the worse
- Though situated in a rain shadow area, this village cluster, till
the late seventies, had the greenest vegetation and the most and
fertile soils in the whole of the undivided Ramanathapuram districts.
- The area was once known for the cultivation of a variety of irrigated
and rainfed crops in combination with livestock.
- This village cluster had also been the primary source of drinking
water to more than 80 villages in Sivagangai, Manamadurai and Thirupuvanam
- This area has also been one of the sources of drinking water to
pockets of villages in Narikudi block in Virudhunagar district.
But all the above have become the events of the past. The area now is
reeling under severe ground water depletion and drinking water scarcity.
Though several factors including unseasonal and undependable nature of
rainfall, unhindered sand mining are attributed to be the basic reasons
for such a sad state of affairs, the primary reason tooks seems to be
installation of two pumping stations in the midst of vaigai riverbed that
forms part of Kanoor village. These pumping stations draw an average of
not less than 10 lakh liters of water per day through landline pipes.
Ever since the establishment of the pumping station the ground water table
keeps going down at an alarming rate. This is evident from the outburst
of the farmers of
impact of Sakthi Sugars Coca Cola on irrigation wells·
Maragathampillai of Thirupachethi village who owns six acres of irrigated
land and a 50 feet deep open well said that his well which, till two years
agro, used to run for twenty four hours, hardly runs for two hours now.
Even after installing a 150 feet deep central bore he couldnt strike water.
With burrowed money he tried to install bore wells in not less than six
different spots in his six acre farm but in vain.
Ramakrishnan a farmer from Kanoor, who owns twenty acres of land
within a distance of 300 meters from the pumping station installed by
Sakthi Sugars Coca Cola combine, said that he has invested not less than
one lakh rupees for cultivating sugar cane and plantain. The water level
during the past months have gone so low that he can hardly water the crop.
In total dejection he said he had very little option other than to vanish
from the scene or commit suicide. The sudden fall of water table, he said,
was neither because of the unseasonal and undependable nature of rainfall
or because of illegal sand mining in vaigai riverbed but more because
of the unrestricted extraction of groundwater by Sakthi Sugars.
Kaleeswari of the same village, owning four acres of land said
that she has a fourty feet deep open well. Water level during the past
two decades have been fluctuating but she had never experienced a situation
as she witnesses now. The well which used to irrigate all four acres,
till two years ago, can hardly irrigate two acres now. She too confirmed
that water level in the well started reseeding ever since the installation
of pumping stations by Sakthi Sugars. She expressed her plight saying,
Sakthi Sugars owes me Rs.6,500/= but doesnt pay any interest. There is
no reply from the factory either. But the officials of the cooperative
bank have been pestering me to
pay interest for the loan I have taken from them. Sakthi Sugars never
cares to tell the co-operative bank that it i! s because of their non
payment that I am unable to clear the loan.
Kanakkangudi village is located at a distance of 5 km from Sakthi
Sugarspumping station. Farmers the village presented a list having the
name of eight farmers whose wells have gone almost dry since the installation
of the pumping stations. The eight wells, the farmers said, which used
to irrigate more than forty acres can now irrigate not more than two acres.
The young men from the village have started migrating towards unbran centers
like Madurai and Thirupur.
Samayapuram, known for the famous Kali temple, is situated at
a distance of seven kilometers from Kanoor. The temple well which was
the major source of water for thousand of devotees has gone totally dry.
Shop keepers around the temple said that the water level has gone down
drastically ever since the establishment of the pumping station by Sakthi
Sugars inside the Vaigai riverbed in Kanoor.
of Sakthi Sugars pumping station on drinking water schemes·
When this is the immediate effect of the pumping stations on the irrigation
wells their impact on drinking water schemes is still worse. The Comprehensive
Drinking Water Supply Scheme which is suppose to provide 12 lakh liters
of water per day to more than eighty villages and Sivagangai, Manamadurai
and Thirupuvanam towns is now supplying only 4 lakh liters.
Same is the case with the Kuttanoor Kootu Kudineer Thittam (Kuttanoor
Comprehensive Drinking Water Scheme) in Thirupachethi, located at a distance
of 5 km from the pumping station at Kanoor. This scheme is to supply drinking
water to nearly 40 villages around Thirupachethi. The caretaker in incharge
of operating the water scheme said that pumping has been stopped for the
last one month because of the total depletion of ground water.
In Thirupuvanam village located at distance of 7 km from the pumping
station at Kanoor a strong group of women said that there is hardly any
water available in around their village. Water drawn from the existing
hand pumps is unusually soar and when used for cooking the rice turns
yellowish. Having no other option, they said, they have to force the children
to drink the available water.
- Ground water level in Padamathur has been going down ever since the
establishment of the Sakthi Sugars.
- The two pumping stations installed by Sakthi Sugars Coca Cola combine
in the Vaigai Riverbed in Kanoor village which extracts 10
12 lakh liters of water per day is the major cause for the unprecedented
ground water drought leading to the drying up of
irrigation wells and drinking water source within the radius of 7 km
from the pumping station.
- Unrestricted extraction of ground water by Sakthi Sugars Coca Cola
combine is depriving the farmers, women and the general public of their
legitimate right on ground water.
- There is total discontent and anger against the onslaught on water
by Sakthi Sugars and Coca Cola and this could lead to law and order
- The Sivagangai district administration should given vent to the feelings
of the larger masses and take immediate action to put an end to the
unrestricted extraction of ground water for bottling and sale.
- The Sivagangai district administration should take up on war footing
the desilting of tanks under food-for-work programme.
- Sakthi Sugars should not be allowed to extract more water that what
has already been permitted. At no point of time should the Sakthi
Sugars Coca Cola combine should be allowed to pumpout additional
water for manufacturing beverages.
- The State Government should comeout with moratorium for a minimum
period of 10 years banning the entry of money minded profit oriented
aliens who would commercialize water and land.
- The State Government should ban commercial enterprises both from
within and outside the State from extracting ground water for bottling
- The State Government should comeout with a ground water policy
that would adhere and accord priority in the order of firstly to drinking
water to people, secondly water for agriculture, thirdly for cattle
and livestock, fourthly water for social sector and only at the last
for industrial and commercial purpose.
Campaign for right to livelihood and food security Tamilnadu PACT Secretariat,
5E, Vinayaganagar, Opp. Court Buildings, Madurai
20 Phone : 0452 2651462 E.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org