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Coimbatore, Oct. 2

THE nearly two-year long campaign by Siruthuli to save Noyyal river from continuous abuse seems to have rung a bell as several people participated in the `River Noyyal Yatra' from Kooduthurai to Singanallur in Coimbatore

People cutting across political affiliations took part in the walkathon for about 30 km that began early morning and ended in the evening today near the Singanallur tank in the city. It was organised by Siruthuli to create awareness about saving this water resource that has shrunk in size. The river has become highly polluted because of extensive encroachments and the release of industrial effluents without any check for decades.

Among those who took part in the yatra were the Tamil Nadu Minister for Food and Cooperation, Mr Pollachi V. Jayaraman, the Congress MP, Mr R. Prabhu, former CBI Director, Mr D. R. Karthikeyan, the Chairman of Bannari Amman Sugars, Mr S. V. Balasubramaniam, and the Managing Trustee, Siruthuli and Executive Director of Pricol, Ms Vanitha Mohan.

There was also a touch of tinsel town, with actor Sivakumar addressing the participants of the yatra at Perur.

The yatra received enthusiastic support from the public and the participants were served refreshments at various locations. Several students, farmers (who had benefited when Siruthuli took up desilting of tanks) and CRPF members took part. . Trade and industry associations also supported the event.

Speaking to Business Line earlier, Ms Vanitha Mohan, said Siruthuli had spent more than Rs 3 crore to desilt tanks and improve the water sources under the Noyyal river system. There are limitations on work that could be taken up by a voluntary organisation and Ms Mohan said it was time the State Government gave financial support to take the movement forward.

She said it was necessary to take up a survey of the Noyyal river system as it originally existed. The river had lost much of its shape and size because of extensive encroachments. The quality of water flowing in it has degraded due to mixing of industrial effluents and sewage. As a result, Noyyal looks more like a pool of sewage water rather than a river that was once a lifeline of the region.

Ms Mohan said that because of the encroachments, the flow of water into the river and tanks was diverted. In her estimate, during the recent rains, only about 60 per cent of the water would have been stored, with the rest getting diverted by the encroachments. Siruthuli has estimated that in the first phase, an investment of about Rs 20 crore would be required to construct 20 check dams, de-silt works and strengthen the bunds of water resources.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 3, 2005)
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