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`New Veeranam project will harm ecology'

By Our Staff Reporter

MADURAI, MARCH 29 . Panchayat presidents and representatives of non-governmental organisations from various districts have expressed an apprehension that the new Veeranam water scheme will have an adverse impact on irrigation, drinking water and agriculture, and will lead to loss of livestock.

The project, aimed at augmenting Chennai water supply, will affect the food security of villages dependent on the Veeranam lake, besides causing ecological disturbances. Hence, it should be abandoned, they said.

This resolution was passed at a consultative meeting on strategies for protection of environment and sustainable development, organised here today by the Society for Integrated Rural Development, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation and the Law Trust.

The meeting demanded that the Centre stop following World Bank and World Trade Organisation policies and that panchayats be given administrative control of water bodies.

Sand mining in river basins destroyed the natural flow of water, so it should be banned. Licence for sand mining should be withdrawn and it should not be restored until a scientific appraisal of the status of river basins and the condition of villages along riverbanks was done.

The Government should withdraw the writs restraining local bodies from administering minor minerals and give them administrative powers.

Mining of major minerals such as bauxite and granite should be stopped to preserve mineral deposits and prevent further ecological destruction until the Government and the leaseholders restored the mined areas to their original status.

The lands identified for wasteland development should be handed over not to multinational companies but to the local bodies for distribution to the landless farm workers. No industrial or construction activity should be allowed on the banks of lakes, ponds and reservoirs, or in catchments or near inlets and outlets of irrigation tanks. All encroachments should be evicted.

Another resolution demanded conferment of powers on local bodies as per of the 73rd and 74th amendments.

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