River linking scheme in abeyance due to lack of funds
The Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu had stated in the budget proposals for 2012-13 that Rs. 100 crore were earmarked for the Tamiraparani – Karumaeniyar – Nambiyar river linking scheme. The state Public Works Department minister later stated during 2013-14 budget proposals, that Rs. 156.44 crore were allocated for the scheme.
However, the reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, given by the PWD Executive Engineer, states that only Rs. 14.17 crore was allocated for the project in 2013-14. In reply to another RTI query, the Superintending Engineer (Projects Circle), PWD stated that the first two phases of the scheme had already been completed with the funds provided by the state government and this expenditure was to be compensated by the funds released under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme. The reply also said that the third and fourth phases of the project will be initiated once the Tamil Nadu government receives funds from the Centre’s Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme.
In the mean time, the farmers of the Tirunelveli district are determined to observe a massive hunger strike condemning the delay in the execution of the project so as to put pressure on the authorities to complete the work. When the police did not permit the hunger strike, the farmers have approached court for the permission.