Tiruchuli farmers have been waiting for three decades for the implementation of Kambikudi and Sennalkudi schemes
The driest constituency of Virudhunagar district, Tiruchuli is craving for irrigation schemes that could help farmers raise a variety of crops from paddy to cotton.
Except for Kariapatti Town panchayat, the constituency is dominated by rural areas of Kariapatti, Tiruchuli and Narikudi panchayat unions.
For three decades, two irrigation schemes – Kambikudi and Sennalkudi schemes – that could bring surplus water from Vaigai river could not be properly executed. “Both the AIADMK and the DMK governments could not implement the most important Kambikudi channel scheme that would fill up 21 tanks to irrigate around 50,000 acres in the otherwise rain-fed areas,” said farmer A. Ammasi of Aviyur.
Farmers growing paddy with rainwater often face shortage of water at the crucial period. “Ironically, this time around paddy, chilly and onions raised on vast areas were damaged by continuous rain. The inordinate delay in disbursal of compensation under crop insurance scheme also weighs down the worried farmers,” he said.
Lack of water has left sprawling areas of farmlands with wild growth of ‘karuvela’ trees (Prosopis juliflora). “The farmers saw an opportunity to make charcoal out of the invasive weed. But it is only the big traders who end up making money while those involved in making charcoal still struggle with a hand-to-mouth existence,” said S. Pethu, 36, of Thoukal.
The labour and transport cost have become higher, eating into the profits, he rued.
Lack of agriculture and industrial development has forced majority of the educated and illiterate masses to migrate to other towns seeking jobs.
Both the ruling party and opposition parties have promised to implement both the irrigation schemes.
“The Cauvery-Gundar river linking project will be expedited to benefit this dry area,” said All India Moovendar Munnani Kazhagam candidate S. Rajasekar, who is contesting on AIADMK’s Two Leaves symbol.
An industrialist from Sivaganga and a known Thevar community leader, Mr. Rajasekar has been fielded against Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Thangam Thennarasu, who is eyeing a hat-trick from Tiruchuli Assembly constituency.
A former Minister, Mr. Thennarasu said a check dam across Gundar that has been sanctioned will help irrigation to some extent.
However, local farmers have been complaining about ruining of Gundar with unchecked illegal sand mining all these years.
“My immediate focus is to bring an arts and science college to the constituency. A college sanctioned by the DMK government was shifted to Sattur by the subsequent AIADMK government,” Mr. Thennarasu said.
Stating that after upgradation of several schools when he was Minister for School Education, Mr. Thennarasu said that the number of students, both boys and girls, who want to get college education has increased manifold and they need to travel out of Tiruchuli to go to college.
A farmers’ association leader, Mr. Rajasekar said that he would promote organic farming with periodical training with the help of experts. He has also promised to provide coaching centres for NEET and other competitive examinations.
Industrial development too has been promised by both the Dravidian parties. Bus connectivity has still not matched the expectations of the rural people. So are the poor condition of roads in the constituency that shares borders with Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Madurai districts.