The contractors have been given permission to mine only up to a depth of meter but most of the contractors have dug up to three meters and very close to the bunds.
K. Valarmathi, Communist Party of India (Marxist) councillor in Tirumangalam municipality, said, "Now that the bed has been deepened below the sluice level, over 300 acres of farmland in Sengkulam will not get water for irrigation."
Public Works Department (PWD) believes that even if the tank was supplemented by the Periyar River it would not solve the problem as the huge pits will absorb all the water and there will be only dead storage in the tank.
The PWD blames the mines department for problem as they were the ones who gave permission for mining and the PWD had only issued the no objection certificate.
On many occasions the local people and the contractors have got into a tussle but it has been of no use. The locals ask "How do officials permit outsiders (contractors) to plunder our wealth, when they are fined in thousands of rupees for taking top soil for agricultural purpose in bullock carts and tractors."
The villagers, who had once seized two trucks, complain that not only the contractor, but also the officials are interested only in expeditious laying of road. "Don't they have the responsibility to protect these water bodies too, our source of livelihood," one of them said.
This kind of situation exists not just in Madurai district but also in Tirumangalam and Melur area tanks too. The PWD has asked the contractors to stop unbridled mining, to level the tank beds and link the isolated pits. "If the repair works are not taken up within 20 days, it would not be possible once the next monsoon sets it,"