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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kathi kathai ...... MNCs and water tanker operators sucking village water ...

There are innate contradictions – when Aavin milk prices go up – parties brace to put up fight seeking revision – but, bottled water will sell high, bottled beverages will sell high [exorbitantly high inside auditoriums be it cinema halls or stadiums!]…… Cities are different – people do not mind spending at malls – there are high class (cost) eateries and then there are bars and the like …. One can spend a month’s salary in few hours ! – there are villages – farmer suicides happen, they are not able to market their produce, there is exploitation of many sorts – one such is tapping by ground water by factories and importantly those beverage companies.

~ and yet when a Cinema portrays, there is so much of bullying … yes in Movies, the sufferings are glossy, the hero or director or the producer may have a hidden agenda.  Yet will the social issue lose its relevance ?

Kathi (the Knife) the Vijay starrer directed by Murugadoss is on screen grossing revenue after protests on the producer.  The movie has Vijay in dual role and the escape from Kolkatta prison is much talked about.  More ridiculed is the role of the hero with degree in  hydrology from the arid village of Thanoothu in Tirunelveli district who had discovered groundwater under some lands of the village which could be used as an irrigation source not only for the village, but for the entire Tiruneveli district and the neighbouring Thoothukudi district as well. An MNC  cheats the villagers in to selling their lands and the hero fights for the cause. 

One may support Vijay, people may criticise him for appearing in Coke advertisements but opposing a similar thing on scene – it is unreal … what is real is the underlying.  Sometime back TOI reported of a Village Panchayat and a private beverage manufacturer of the same village in the district locking horns over the functioning of the unit there.  The place is - Sooriyur village in Thiruverumbur Taluk of Trichy  where the protesters allege that the bottling plant has been pumping out lakhs of litres of water through deep borewells since 2010 resulting in the ground water level dipping in the past four years. The agriculture activities which were relying on irrigation wells and deep borewells were severely affected due to this, they say.  They further claim that despite the order of Dist Admn. to close the deep borewells, the indiscriminate drawing of water continues.

a photo taken in a village sometime back - by me

~ and a tiny village bordering the Metropolis of Chennai has come to the Madras high court complaining about indiscriminate extraction of groundwater from its territory to meet the needs of the city.  TOI reports that Sonalur village panchayat, near Thiruporur on Old Mahabalipuram Road [OMR], says water is being sucked for Chennai residents while villagers themselves are struggling for their requirements.

Justice V Ramasubramanian, before whom the case came up for admission on Thursday , ordered notices to the authorities concerned. The petition, filed by Sonalur panchayat president S Sankar, said commercial entities had sunk 400feet-deep borewells and carried water to Chennai in tankers. “In view of digging of deep borewells at several points in the village, groundwater level has gone down, resulting in severe water shortage,“ he said, adding that the panchayat was able to supply drinking water only once a week. Villages around Chennai have been complaining about over-exploitation of water by private tanker operators. In an attempt to curb the menace, some local bodies imposed restrictions on extraction of water, leading to frequent showdowns with tanker owners.The city's water requirement is around 1,100 million litres per day (mld), but Metrowater is able to supply only about 700mld. The rest is met by wells within the city and private tankers, which bring water from surrounding villages.

In Sept 24, the Thiruporur block development officer wrote to the Sonalur panchayat asking it to maintain its water sources well, and to approach police if there was any diversion of its water for commercial purposes. Acting on the advisory , the panchayat lodged a police complaint, he said. Villagers sent separate complaints to the collector saying they had been threatened with dire consequences by water tanker operators if extraction and supply are disrupted.  The villagers want an interim injunction stopping the authorities from allowing extraction and transportation of water from the village in tanker lorries.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7th Nov. 2014.

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