The Villupuram district administration, in association with the Departments of Rural Development and Animal Husbandry, has identified 47.5-acre grazing land out of a total of 98 acres at Olakkur near Tindivanam for growing fodder for livestock and to ensure prompt supply to dairy farmers.
Official sources said it was part of a State-wide initiative to identify ‘Meikkal’ land for growing nutritious fodder for livestock. The 98 acres of land that remained under encroachment was retrieved by the district administration recently.
“The land was barren. The administration engaged the services of about 2,045 active workers of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and leveled the land. About 47.5 acres of the total area of 98 acres was identified and developed for growing fodder for livestock. A farm pond was dug up on the land while a community well which remained in disuse on the site was also restored to harvest rainwater,” District Collector D. Mohan said.
“The land was cleared and developed for growing fodder tree species like Subabul, Neem, Kalyanamurungai, Glyricidia, Velvel and tree species suited for the local agro-climatic zone. There was systematic convergence of various line departments such as rural development, agriculture, horticulture, agricultural engineering, and Mahalir Thittam. Works including land reclamation, establishment of contours, raising of nursery for fodder trees and planting of fodder crops and trees were carried out by the MNREGS workers,” he added.
The administration had dug up a percolation pond on an expanse of two acres within the land identified for grazing and rejuvenated a community well. This would now help in recharging the ground water. About 560 teak trees had been planted on the pond’s bunds by the MNREGS workers while as many as 14,000 saplings of various species were being readied by the Department of Horticulture on a monthly basis in a nursery in the area, the Collector said.
“During the colonial period, separate grazing poromboke lands were earmarked in each area for the benefit of livestock of that region. However, over the years, the grazing lands were encroached or used for agricultural purposes resulting in a shortage of availability of grazing land for livestock,” said T. Manoharan, Regional Joint Director of Animal Husbandry, Villupuram region.
The rejuvenation of grazing land on scientific lines was important to substantially enhance fodder availability, he said, adding that the intervention would provide effective land cover as well as ensuring availability of nutritious fodder for livestock, sequester carbon and protect the environment, he added.
Mr. Mohan said the land would be handed over to the respective village panchayat for further maintenance. A Village Level Pasture Management Committee (VPMC) would also be constituted for effective maintenance of the grazing land, he said.