Land Development Programs In Thiruchuli Block


SPEECH with a clear vision of empowering the deprived communities in Thiruchuli area started building up the power of them through various means. Natural resources conservation and management has been the one of the major activities of SPEECH because 95% of the people dwell in Thiruchuli area depend up on Agriculture for their livelihood. In spite of that the conservation measures have not been properly done either by the farmers or by the government. The frequent monsoon failure made the people to loose interest in farming. Subsequently non-availability of pro agricultural policies, like in agricultural input, lack of draught animals, low agri returums, low price for agricultural produces had also influenced the small and marginal farmers not to continue the agricultural operations effectively. The negative impacts of green revolution have also been the additional factor of farming communities deprived of income from lands. In mid of 1980’s land alienation seemed to be the crucial issue because of the intrusion of multinational companies, non-resident Indians through politicians.         Whole lots of lands were purchased by them for non agricultural purposed in order to avail subsidy from government. Many small and marginal farmers found to be victims, sold their small holdings and became landless, started migrating to neighboring states for search of employment.

Having realised all these problems the focus group faced, SPEECH started involving very actively in natural resources conservation and management. The partnership with OXFAM German Agro Action, SIDA & Christian Aid, was through small experimental Projects – Promotion of Bio-intensive Gardening in 1989 and then land development activities.  The  projects supported by OXFAM , SIDA, GAA, Christaian aid, was wasteland development at Sriramanethal dry & wed land development, Paraikualm watershed development, Kottam Land development, Ramasamy patti land development Suchaneripatti & Keethanayakkan patti land development, Kadampankulam & Thamaraikulam Land development. The total coverage  of the project 1097 acres of 528 small and marginal farmers from Thiruchuli union from 1991 to 2007


There have been no changes with regard to the target group and location. The small /marginal farmers who were part of initial planning continue to be the project partners. 528 small and marginal farmers have been the partners of Thiruchuli union Land development Projects

As per the initial planning the following activities were planned to be implemented with the support of other parties.

  • Land demarcation
  • Land survey for well, bore wells          -    Revenue department & Registrar
  • Geophysical survey
  • Water divining
  • Test bore
  • Shallow ponds              -    Agricultural engineering department
  • Soil testing
  • Water testing                -    Soil testing Laboratory
  • Inter cropping                  
  • Vetiver                         -    Agriculture department   
  • Seedlings raising
  • Tree planting                -   Horticulture department  
  • Purchase of goats
  • Veterinary care             -   Veterinary department 
  • Capacity building         -   Fellow NGO’s

During the project implementation period as expected the revenue department extended its help to survey the overall lands of project area and also spotted the place for well/ bore well construction.

The registrar department was helpful in registering the lands allocated for water bodies.
The agricultural engineering department of Virudhunagar contributed their person power in  completing topography.  Survey, find out water potential, sinking of bore wells, and deepening of shallow pond.

The soil and water analysis have been completed by soil testing laboratory. The Veterinary doctor of Thiruchuli Veterinary centre helped in partners identifying quality goats subsequently they extended their support is developing local barefoot Veterinarian for follow up. The Agriculture department supplied hybrid seeds, for intercropping and Vetiver for check soil erosion.

The NGOs like BHUMI Trust, CHIREP, and MYRADA were actively involved in equipping project partners to be more effective and efficient.

The participation of the government and other parties was excellent during the project period. As said in the project planning through the top down approach exists still, they have been very close and cordial to the farmers. The gap between the government system and farmers association is reduced. This can be understood from the linkage diagram of farmers prepared.


To improve the living standard and livelihood system of small and marginal farmers in Thiruchuli union and surrounding areas in the set objective for land development program of Thiruchuli union. Of course the objective has been achieved to the maximum with the support of partners and other stakeholders. Due to external factors the impacts are stunted but at the same time the positive changes happened in Thiruchuuli union will be sustained by the partners in the future also.


The following results were planned during the planning phase and subsequently these have been achieved to the maximum



  • Though there has not been increase in the yield by 30% as planned, there was 20% increase in crop production.
  • As planned 50% of the project have established access to fodder for their goats.  Now the partners graze the goats in the lands during the lean period and take fodder like neem Acacia nilotica pods, prosopbis pods, groundnut leaves, cotton fruits, subabul and other wild varieties from the project area. However the scope for feeding the animals over a period of two years would be bit difficult.
  • The groundwater level has not increased rather depletion has taken place because of monsoon failure.
  • A monitoring committee has been set up whose role is also involving in marketing the produces jointly. But the functioning of committee in terms   of marketing was effective due the less returns from the lands.
  • Four bore wells with a deep of 250.ft 6.5inches and 4 open well with a specification of 28.5ft long 27.5 ft broad established the participation of project partners and other stakeholders.



  • The income of the families increased through the support of animal husbandry program.
  • The population of goats have increased to the tune of more than 60% compared to the early stages. During the project period we have supported 1250 goats including the off springs in Thiruchuli Union. The approximate value is Rs. 18,75,000/=
  • Awareness level of project partners have also increased on maintenance of soil and water conservation structures, joint marketing, conflict resolution, project monitoring liaison and linkage.

RESULT – 3 :


  • The water and soil conservation structures are very well maintained by the farmers. The monitoring committee plays a major in rearranging the structures wherever necessary.
  • Since the local associations are strong the conflicts are handled by them along with Panchayat  Raj Institution members. Hence local conflicts are comparatively reduced and in the last 16 years no eases have been registered in police station.
  • The partners still maintain very good rapport with the Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Agri – engineering and horticulture departments. In addition to that Thiruchuli union farmers association is a member of governing council. An article on Thamaraikulam goat rearing were published in a International Institute of Environment and Development LONDON.
  • The partners still have contacts with the MYRADA Watershed farmers, which is very effective in sharing the experiences among the farmers themselves.  


In order to achieve the results and the set objective the following activities were planned and implemented in Thiruchuli union Land development projects.

Land cleaning
2. Land demarcation
3. Geo physical survey
4. Deep ploughing
5. Bunding
6. Gully plugs and vetiverplanting
7. Soil testing
8. Manure application
9.  Nursery raising
10. Inter cropping
11. Water divining
12. Test bore
13.Water testing
14. Land registration & well digging
15.Motor installation
16.Motor room construction
17.Tree planting
18.Diging of shallow ponds.
19.Training on Animal husbandry
20.Purchase of goats/ Milch animals
22.Verterinary care
23. Trainings /Exposure

Percolation pond digging at the project sites:

Farmers association based percolation ponds were excavated at the project sits for storing runoff rain water with the contribution of farmers association as per the project guidelines. With the water spread area ponds has helped in recharging the nearby wells and thereby ensuring assured irrigation, which within a period of the ponds establishment has created a marked and visible impact. Some of the highlights are; increase in the level of water in the wells, cross cropped area increased by 10% nearly doubling of the area under vegetable cultivations and lessening the dependency on pumped water from bore wells for livestock maintenance. The area around the pond has been planted with trees and forming of bio fencing, vettiver has been on the slope of the pond s as a soil binder. Through such water harvesting  structures  is being promoted as part of the project activities under the land development program  in  Thiruchuli union of Virudunagar district. Bond infrastructure have been developed to store water at the project site.

Impact of the Program

The land development programmes involving the entire community and natural resources influence:

  • Productivity and production of crops, changes in land use and cropping pattern, adoption of modern technologies, increase in milk production, etc.,
  • Attitude of the community towards project activities and their participation at different stages of the project,
  •  Socio-economic conditions of the people such as income, employment, assets, health, education and energy use,
  •  Impact on environment,
  • Use of land, water, human and livestock resources,
  • Development of institutions for implementation of watershed development activities, and
  • Ensuring sustainability of improvements. It is thus clear that Land development is a key to sustainable production of food, fodder, fuel wood and meaningfully addresses the social, economical and cultural status of the rural community. Recognising the importance
The Land development activities generate significant positive externalities which have a bearing on improving the agricultural production, productivity, socio-economic status of the people who directly or indirectly depend on the Land development for their livelihood. The environmental indicators include water level in the wells, changes in irrigated area, duration of water availability, water table of wells, surface water storage capacity, differences in the number of wells, number of wells recharged /defunct, differences in Irrigation intensity and Land development eco index.

People’s Participation In Villur Chain Of Tank Modernization

Mr. Arunodhayam Erskine,
Project Director, SPEECH,

For many long years, our Indian government is spending a huge budget; say for example, thousands of crores of Rupees on its citizens, especially on the villager’s life, in order to improve their quality of life. But yet it hasn’t seen any improvement.

The factors responsible for lack of improvement are non preservation of natural resources, environmental pollution, population increase, inequalities, non co –operative policies & goals, Lack of people’s participation in social activities etc.

After Independence, our Indian government had brought forth many leading projects in order to improve their poverty. Since the need was high and the available resources with the government were low, it couldn’t bring fruitful effects. So, in this juncture with the help of the government support, NGO’s have come forward to work hard in order to bring a standard sustainable growth in the villager’s life.


SPEECH – Society for Peoples Education and Economic Change was established in the year 1987, primarily working for the cause of social transformation. SPEECH is working in the districts of both Madurai & Virudhunagar in Tamilnadu state for the past 12 years by focusing on the following core concepts.

  • Bringing out the hidden skills of the people (Farmers, Agri labourers, Village craft makers, Child labourers  & Women) who are really suppressed in the society, thereby establishing service centres  and maintaining the available resources by these people in their own town limits.
  • Creating full awareness about all the linkage problems.
  • Rehabilitating the agricultural and the other related works.
  • Identifying & proposing various developmental projects.
  • Involving the people fully in understanding the various activities of the project, monitoring and studying those activities etc.

SPEECH is doing various developmental projects to the community in a democratic way of involving people in various activities for their very own development. ( By the people,  For the people,  To the people) The main objectives of doing such developmental projects are,

  • To find out the peoples need and to study their preferences by using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method.
  • To strengthen the villager’s life
  • And to attain a sustainable development in the villager’s life.
  • So, based on the above said objectives, Villur chain of tank modernization project was selected.


Long years back, our ancestors had done several beneficiary things to us, so that we may live happily without any worries & burden. Among them is the one called tank building, which serves as  a basic reservoir for agricultural works. For many long years this tank reservoir is being used to save our people, our crops and also our cattle’s from drought.

On one hand, the whole world is praising our ancestor’s knowledge of collecting & saving the rain water in a reservoir like tank and using it for farming, while on the other hand, we are selling plots and constructing houses & tents in the tank and spoiling it heavily and this is purely because of our recklessness & lack of proper knowledge about these tank reservoirs and its various benefits. The tanks filled with one time rain water which guarantively gave 3 fold yields before were now at the stage of giving just 1 fold yield and that too not guaranteed at times. If this situation prevails, then our future generation’s life as well as the condition of such precious resources may get fully spoiled. Therefore in order to preserve these tank reservoirs, the Tamilnadu public works department in association with the European Economic Council Fund, established tank modernization project in Tamilnadu state in the year 1984.

In the year 1996, during the 2nd phase of extention activities, various NGO’s were made to involve in studying the farmers participation in tank modernization project. So based on this concept, 2 different surveys were made (or) proposed; one by SPEECH on Villur chain of tank modernization in Madurai & Virudhunagar districts while the other by ASHA on nanjur chain of tank modernization in Pudukottai district of Tamilnadu state respectively.


Nearly, 17 tank reservoirs are identified as follows which benefits 25 villages in 10 panchayats of T.Kallupatti, Virudhunagar and Kallikudi blocks. \

  • Kunnathur Periyakarisalkulam
  • Athanoor
  • Villur periyakanmai
  • Sevalkulam
  • Iyyanarkulam
  • Vengatasamudharam
  • Veltrangulam
  • Uvari
  • Puliangulam
  • Periya Sevalkulam – Thenmainallur
  • Illupaikulam
  • Mai Ittanpati – Periyakanmai
  • Pudhukulam seval kanmai
  • Chittoor
  • Pullalakottai
  • Kokkupatti soundareswaram and
  • Sivagnanapuram


Total No of tanks : 17 - PWD tanks – 7 . Panchayat block tanks – 10

Total Irrigational area - 600 Hectares (1492 acres)
Total volume of tanks - 159 Million cubic cm
Beneficiary villages - 25
Water wells in the irrigational area - 297
Expected extra food production - 900 mega tons.
Extra agri income - Rs. 41.00 lakhs



The primary role of doing survey work in the Villur chain of tank modernization was taken as a great responsibility by SPEECH and it was studied by using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method.

Through this PRA technique, SPEECH could bring out different opinions of the people and tank reservation related problems, its impacts and its solutions like, pile – up of sand weak /short/ thorny bushed boundaries around the tanks, leakage / damage / worst channel opening system, less number of channels, encroachment of sand, using channel bushes for illegal activities, Re – routing channel problems, water supply management, water block usage (or) share, relationship between ayacuts & water blocks, the stage of irrigational channels, need of water wells in the community etc.

Not limiting to the above said problems, SPEECH has also submitted a very detailed report by studying the peoples opinion and their various problems like, local people participation in tank maintenance and repair, the relationship between ayacut unions and the local bodies, delayness in the tank maintenance due to local problems, the relationship between ayacuts and the encroachers, the tank linked conflicts between two nearby villagers, local castism  & political differences, discriminations etc.

Since SPEECH has prior experience of using PRA technique in various other projects, it has become so easy for it to sort out a case study. Not just by doing case study alone but SPEECH has even gone to the far end goal of the study which is meant to surrender the tank management system to the local ayacuts and to equip / make them ready to do the whole tank management system by their own.


Initially, SPEECH didn’t show any interest of implementing the project as a whole during the period of case study. But later, it showed much interest since it had well understood about its involvement, need and responsibility in the outcome of the project. Since this project has to be finished within a very short span, SPEECH has adopted many strategic ways to complete it very soon.


In this particular walk campaign, SPEECH had brought forth the importance of tank management and its benefits to the whole society and pushed this thinking sense into the minds of the people.

Tank walk campaign was conducted successfully for 3 consecutive days of 17th, 18th & 19th of September month in the year 1998. The major participants were chief engineer named Mr.N.Durairaj, Graham Edjili and Mr. Ayyanmathesan other officials of Hatkins organization, PWD engineers, SPEECH officials, members selected by irrigational farmers and village people.


  • To bring co – operation & mutual understanding among the irrigational farmers and to insist the effect of their joint effort at the chain level.
  • To make a sense of feeling to those who create problems unfairly among the group as well as to increase their wider participation.
  • To make the irrigational farmers to understand the temporary problems in all the tank reservoirs.
  • To form / make number of interest groups who are really interested in the modernization of chain of tanks as well as to improve their relationship.
  • To make the irrigational farmers to understand the truth of linkage and dependency of each tank with the other.


  • Instructing very clearly about the tank walk campaign in union meetings and stimulating the people’s participation in tank walk campaign meetings.
  • Tank quotes, mike announcements, wall stickers & pamplets which describes in detail about the project.
  • Advertisements about the project & tank walk campaign in cinema theatres.
  • Mike announcements in each and every village.
  • Giving privileges to the local women group and allowing them to participate in the welcome address, to felicitate in the public meetings thereby confirming the women’s participation role in the programmes.
  • Strengthening the tank walk campaign by issuing Dhothies & Towels printed as   “Villur chain of tank modernization team” to all the participants.
  • Giving importance to the local cultural activity and respecting their values by doing  Poojas to the Godly vessels filled with tank water and worshiping the Goddess cauvery ( who has come to the paddy field )


  • The interest of the tank management had increased by means of healthy discussions & arguments on temporary standards of the tanks.
  • Local problems had reduced and healthy relationship had attained.
  • Self confidence had greatly increased among the farmers.
  • People had come forward voluntarily to become a member of the irrigational farmers unions and such unions had been established where there were none.
  • People’s interest of participating in chain level meetings had improved.
  • A very strong contacts & relationship between PWD & Ayacuts had developed.


Though many numbers of steps had taken to surrender the tank management activity to the ayacuts, so far, no fruitful benefits have drawn out of it even though we have invested a  very huge amount  on it. So, SPEECH has taken it as a great challenge and has got a minimal success in doing so, for e.g. :- ( Forming standard ayacut unions and through them establishing sample groups to maintain the tanks from one generation to the other)

Strengthening people and giving their own power (or) authority to them” – is the real base for any developmental growth. So based on this strong belief and truth, there is no doubt that the Villur chain of tank modernization project will be set as an example or as a role model in Tamilnadu state of greater India.



1. In the second phase of extension works of tank modernization project done  by Tamilnadu state public works department with the help of European economic council fund, nearly 35 community organizers were appointed and they are now working in this project for the past three years. They play a very major role in the Tamilnadu state small irrigation project and they are doing their work very excellently.

Their job Responsibilities are,

    • To act as a mentor / ambassador between PWD engineers and the farmers who gets benefit out of tank irrigation
    • To inform the farmers about new irrigational methods, thereby to increase the water source level.
    • To increase the additional income of the farmers by adopting, new agricultural technological procedures which gives more yield.
    • To associate themselves with the process of renovating, strengthening and maintaining the tank and to provide training to the irrigational farmers to participate and to accomplish new tasks of maintaining the tanks

2. Apart from the above said responsibilities, these 35 community organizers are working in the following areas like,

    • Establishing irrigational farmers union and registering it
    • Collecting yearly subscription of an amount of Rs.100/. per acre from each irrigational farmer and paying it in bank under the name of the union.
    • Receiving an equal share amount given by the government through Thuvakudi irrigational management centre and depositing it in the unions saving bank account and
    • Training the farmers to maintain the tanks perfectly by taking the yearly bank interest amount as well as the other agri related incomes (Getting incomes by auctioning the tank trees, gives the tank with grown up fishes for lease etc.)

3. Under this project, all the 35 community organizers were given training with all practical exposures  and their skills were enhanced. In the second phase of the project extention these community organizers not only established 100 irrigational farmers union but also they have deposited the share amount in the bank collected from them. By seeing such activity the farmers were encouraged and they have come forward to do the project activities by their own.

4. Because of the continuous efforts taken by these community organizers nearly 100 or more irrigational farmers unions are successfully doing their activities under the tank modernization project. We need to encourage these community organizers in all ways so that they will do their work in an outstanding quality. Further actions are being taken to increase their basic pay, travel allowances as well as to provide other benefits to them.

The fruitful works of these community organizers are continuously needed
in future, in the tank modernization projects which is to be sponsored by NABARD & World Bank. Therefore, let them play their vital role in this sector with the intention of having good future opportunity in the Tamilnadu public works department. 


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