EVEN before the IT SEZ planned by the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot) could take shape, there seems to be a big rush for IT space among various corporates and developers in the city.

While city-based corporates like the Bannari Amman Group, Salzer group and KG group have come out with their plans on the IT front, many new commercial developers have also joined the bandwagon by getting formal SEZ approvals for their proposed projects. Coimbatore Hi-Tech Infrastructure is planning to develop an IT SEZ over 60.73 acres at Keeranatham village and Span Ventures has got formal approval for 10.5 acres IT/ITeS SEZ at Eachanari.

The state-owned Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco), is also planning an IT park in the city suburbs. Rakindo Developers, a 50-50 joint venture between Vishwatej Projects and Rakeen, UAE, along with Tidco has proposed to develop feeder township, residential and leisure facilities over 625 acres in the villages of Sundakamuthur, Perur Chettipalayam and Thithipalayam.

The group also plans to promote an IT park on 25 acres at Perur village at Chettipalayam in south Coimbatore district. Bannari Group plans to develop an IT SEZ over 78 acres at Kalapatty village in Coimbatore and has got formal approval for around 60 acres. The entire process is likely to be completed in the next few months. Salzer plans to develop 1 lakh sq.ft. IT park in association with a US-based consulting service provider while KG group has acquired around 160 acres near its existing campus at Saravanampatty for developing it as an ITES SEZ. I

According to sources in the property development business, by the end of 2009, approximately 10-15 million sq.ft, of new IT/ITeS space will enter the Coimbatore market.
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  • Details of water supply project yet to be placed in public domain Nivedha Selvam | TNN | Jul 29, 2018, 00:28 IST

    Coimbatore: At a time when there is growing opposition regarding handing over the 24/7 drinking water supply distribution project to a private company, the reluctance of the city corporation to publicize the project agreement has aggravated public fear.

    Just a few days ago, commissioner of municipal administration G Prakash had promised to upload the model concession agreement (MCA) of the project in the city corporation website. However, highly-placed sources in the corporation told TOI that the document may never be uploaded or even made available through RTI as it was not categorized as a public document.

    The document, which is uploaded in www.tntenders.gov.in, is locked, TOI found. “Members of the public can not access the document unless the government unlocks it,” an official said.

    Until recently, there was no need for the civic body to upload such documents in public domain as the council was in place, said N Karthik, MLA from Singanallur constituency. “Details about such projects were placed before the council members and the pros and cons were discussed in detail. But it is important to make the document available in public domain during the absence of council,” he said.

    Former CPM councillor C Padmanaban, who was recently detained by police after he staged a protest inside the Corporation office demanding a copy of the agreement, agreed. “Even though corporation officials orally announces bits and pieces of information from the agreement time to time, it is important for us to go through the entire agreement. On what basis the civic body sanctioned such a huge amount? What sort of clauses it has included in the agreement to ensure social security? We all know that private companies are profit-oriented. The officials should address all the concerns raised against the project,” he added.

    The opposition parties have decided to stage a mass protest against the project on July 31.

    Several protests and agitations were held shortly after the private company started studying the current water supply project in the city. The protesters want the civic body to cancel the agreement with the private company as they are apprehensive about the tariff to be fixed for water consumption.


  • Property tax in Coimbatore higher than in Chennai During 2008, civic bodies other than Chennai corporation revised property tax not extending up to 25% of the existing slab for residential buildingsTNN | August 04, 2018, 15:00 IST

    With the revision of property tax in the state, tax payers in Coimbatore corporation will be paying higher tax for their buildings than those in Chennai.

    “The revised property tax might be appropriate for buildings in Chennai corporation, but it definitely is not appropriate for those in Coimbatore,” said K Kathirmathiyon of Coimbatore Consumer Forum.

    During 2008, civic bodies other than Chennai corporation revised property tax not extending up to 25% of the existing slab for residential buildings, up to 100% for industrial buildings and up to 150% for commercial buildings, he said, explaining that Chennai corporation last revised property tax during 1998.

    Though the land value is higher in Chennai, building owners from other parts of the state are paying higher tax than those in Chennai, he said.

    “For instance, if a building owner in Chennai is paying Rs 2,000 as property tax until revision, we have been paying Rs 2,500.” He explained that now the tax amount has been increased to Rs 3,000 for the building owner in Chennai and to Rs 3,750 for people elsewhere.

    “Why should we pay a higher amount,” Kathirmathiyon asked.

    Former counsellors said that if the local body council had been in place, such a thing would not have happened.

    The hike is exorbitant, C Padmanabhan, a former counsellor, said. The civic body, without knowing how to manage funds, has spent lavishly. “How will the civic body have funds if they privatise all projects?” he said.

    The state government in general recommends that the civic body hike the tax up to a certain point and during the discussion at the council meet the exact hike percentage per building type would be decided, said S M Samy, former counsellor.

    Since there is no council this year, civic body officials had accepted the government recommendations without any discussion, he added.


  • Coimbatore civic body expected to net Rs 124 crore more as property tax According to this, the civic body will earn over Rs 267.08 crores from 4.98 lakh buildings – 3.17 lakh residential buildings, 1.36 lakh rented residential buildings, 36,525 commercial buildings and 8,463 industrial buildings – in the city limit, according to sources in the civic bodyNivedha Selvam | TNN | August 04, 2018, 19:00 IST

    The Coimbatore civic body is expected to generate additional revenue of Rs 123.97 crore this year after the state government increased the property tax for buildings in the corporation limit.

    Following the directions of the Madras high court, the state government revised the property tax and as per the government order (GO), the local bodies would be raising the property tax by up to 50% for residential buildings and up to 100% for commercial and industrial buildings.

    According to this, the civic body will earn over Rs 267.08 crores from 4.98 lakh buildings – 3.17 lakh residential buildings, 1.36 lakh rented residential buildings, 36,525 commercial buildings and 8,463 industrial buildings – in the city limit, according to sources in the civic body.

    The estimated revenue from property tax before tax revision for financial year 2018-19 is Rs 171.79 crore, according to the sources. The revised estimate of property tax revenue for financial year 2017-18, as of February, is Rs 111.11 crore.

    This move has increased the flow of funds to the civic body. A corporation official said the civic body planned to utilise the increase in revenue on various developmental work and to provide essential services to the public.

    At present, the corporation does not receive the central government’s fund due to the absence of local body councils. The official said they have been selective about choosing developmental projects in the city.

    Only projects that are much needed for the city were being proposed of late due to the funds crunch. Officials have been working on stabilising the financial status of the corporation. With the increase in revenue, they would be able to implement the pending projects and improve the maintenance work of the implemented projects, the official said.

    Also, the revision of tax on the basis of current guideline value is expected to facilitate the repayment of the corporation’s loan in a short period of time.

    Tax payers who have already paid property tax for the half year will have to pay the arrears, the official said.


  • Corporation begins work to repair damaged city roads

    COIMBATORE, AUGUST 06, 2018 00:00 IST
    UPDATED: AUGUST 06, 2018 03:47 IST

    A damaged stretch of the MG Road, near Avarampalayam, in Coimbatore.S. SIVA SARAVANANS_SIVA SARAVANAN

    Nearly Rs. 5 crore sanctioned for repairing damaged stretches, say officials

    From Vadavalli to Kalapatti and from Thudiyalur to Kuniamuthur, the condition of city roads has gone from bad to worse.

    Engineers in the Coimbatore Corporation say that even as the civic body went about repairing damaged stretches of roads, the recent spell of South-West Monsoon rain has resulted in more damaged stretches than it closed.

    They say that the worst affected roads are those where the corporation completed the underground sewer laying work, but not restored the road surface. Most of such roads are in the East Zone.

    “From Peelamedu to Udayampalayam to Singanallur, many roads are so badly damaged that it is impossible to drive safe,” complains Singanallur MLA N. Karthik, who has led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam cadre in inspecting the damaged areas and petitioning the corporation authorities.

    List submitted

    “In fact, I’ve presented the corporation with a list of over 60 such roads that need immediate attention. But it has not taken any steps to repair the damaged stretches, even though it has been a month since I presented the petition.”

    The Udayampalayam Road that connects the area with Nava India Junction and farther north to Gandhipuram has been an important link, more so when one considers the fact that it also provides connectivity to a number of education institutions. But, the corporation has not repaired the road for the past two years, says R. Cheralathan of Udayampalayam.

    The corporation took up the work in February-March of 2016 and completed the pipeline laying work after a long delay. It should have followed up the work by restoring the damaged roads, but it has not.

    Even in areas where it has rebuilt roads dug for underground drainage or not taken up the work, the corporation has not repaired damaged stretches of roads. In K.K. Pudur, near Saibaba Colony, it took the corporation years to repair two roads that were dug for laying a water supply pipeline, says M. Ravindraraj, a former councillor.

    “Only after the residents of the area threatened to stage agitation and stuck bills, the corporation swung into action and rebuilt the Maniamvelappar Street. But, it is yet to work on Alagannan Street, Kamarajar Street, Kavundappan Street and a few more streets in the area,” he adds.

    In areas where the corporation bitumen-topped the damaged stretches, the potholes have resurfaced after the last spell of rains and has undone the work, rue corporation officials pointing to Sanganoor Road as an example.

    Senior corporation officials say that the civic body has sanctioned nearly Rs. 5 crore for repairing damaged roads in the city. It has allotted a higher sum for zones like the East Zone where the number of roads damaged due to the execution of underground drainage work is higher.

    The work has begun and will continue for at least the next three to four weeks, they add.

  • Corpn officials directed to speed up Smart City projects Nivedha Selvam | tnn | Aug 8, 2018, 01:01 IST

    Coimbatore: City corporation commissioner K Vijayakarthikeyan has directed officials to speed up all the projects that are being carried out under the Smart City Mission.

    At a review meeting on Tuesday, the commissioner directed the officials to ensure that the projects were executed within the framed timeline using the allotted funds. He also reviewed the status of all the projects, said an official, who participated in the meeting.

    The civic body also revised the cost of the lakes rejuvenation project from Rs 357 crore to Rs 206 crore after the high-power standing committee for the Smart City projects recommended a few changes and reduction of the cost recently, the official said. “The changes, made without removing any of the proposed ideas, would be resubmitted to the committee. After its approval, tenders will be floated,” the official added.

    Besides the lakes rejuvenation project, the civic body has already issued work orders to implement the quick win projects for the same lakes – Periyakulam tank, Selva Chintamani tank and Valankulam tank – at a cost of Rs 87.88 crore. These projects would involve building infrastructure like laying pavements around the lakes and establishing eateries.

    Apart from the lake restoration project, the working status of other projects including model road projects, solar tree projects were reviewed, the official added.

    Meanwhile, the commissioner conducted another review meeting with the corporation officials in charge of water distribution system to provide uninterrupted drinking water supply to the public in the city.


  • CMC colony tenements falling apart Nivedha Selvam | TNN | Updated: Aug 10, 2018, 13:02 IST

    COIMBATORE: Through holes between the bricks that form the walls of a building, residents peek out at the outside world without opening the widows; the iron grills on the widows have worn out.

    “We have been requesting the government for over a decade to reconstruct the housing unit as it is in a dilapidated condition, but we are yet to receive a response,” said M Maheswari from Adi Tamizhar Peravai, who is a resident of the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation (CMC) colony which accommodates over 430 sanitary workers of the corporation.

    Constructed in 1992, the complex with over 13 blocks had started to show signs of age by 2004 and they made complaints more than three times, she said adding that the residents were sceptical about the strength of the building.

    The corporation had been withholding about 30% of the salary of the workers for the house, while a portion of the pension amount was withheld for retired workers till the amount due was settled.

    For a flat that is not bigger than 280sqft, the residents have paid amounts ranging between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh. V Chitra (31), another resident, said the flat is too small even for a family of four.

    Even as the residents find it difficult to stretch their legs while sleeping, she said that on rainy days they have to squeeze themselves further to provide enough space to place vessels across the room to collect water dripping through cracks in the roof.

    Every other day chunks of plaster or concrete keep falling down. Chitra said that almost all sun shades and window grilles were completely damaged.

    While most of the steps on the stairs were worn, the landings had cracks and threaten to collapse any moment. She said she was doubtful the building would withstand another heavy rain. When contacted, slum clearance board officials said they had a proposal to demolish and reconstruct the entire colony. The proposal is now with the corporation, they said.
    As soon as the proposal is approved, the board will start implementing the project, the officials added.

  • Set up resort zones, say environmental activists TNN | Aug 11, 2018, 23:44 IST
    Welcoming the Supreme Court order, environmental activists here called for setting up resort zones in the Nilgiris. The sealing drive should serve as a reminder to the mushrooming resorts in the upper plateau of the Nilgiris as well, they said.

    In a press release, NGO Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC) appealed to the district authorities to consider modifications to the master plan and panchayat rules to mark specified resort zones in the district. “Such zones should not only provide due buffer space between them and protected areas, forests and landslide prone areas, but also from tribal and indigenous community villages and their socio-cultural spaces. The administration should provide water, road and other infrastructure to such resort zones at a cost. However, they should adhere to the rules of construction and aesthetics,” the release said.

    “The resort zones can be identified in all the taluks with a cap on maximum number in each zone. Private operators can also be allowed to promote such zones subject to the restrictions. The district administration should call for public consultation for the need and modalities for forming resort zones in the district,” suggested NDC.

    K Kalidass, president, OSAI said, “Nilgiri biosphere reserve houses the single largest population of elephants. Regular crossing of elephants takes place in the Moyar elephant corridor. It is a narrow corridor. The Supreme Court order is very timely and we support it.”


  • There is no forest without elephants, say environmentalists P Sangeetha

    The Supreme Court recently cracked the whip on resort owners who have illegally constructed hotels and restaurants in the picturesque Moyar elephant corridor in Nilgiris

    | TNN | Updated: Aug 12, 2018, 11:06 IST

    The Supreme Court recently cracked the whip on resort owners who have illegally constructed hotels and restaurants in the picturesque Moyar elephant corridor in Nilgiris. The court asked the state government to close down the resorts within 48 hours and the others to produce documents to prove that they had valid license. The move has come as a huge relief for environmentalists in the city on World Elephant Day.

    “The Court has identified 821 properties in the elephant corridor, which comes under two panchayats- Sholur and Masinagudi. By curbing such constructions, the human-animal conflict in the region can come down to a great extent,” says city-based environmentalist K Mohan Raj.

    K Kalidas of Osai, a Coimbatore-based NGO, states that the Nilgiris biosphere has the single largest population of Asiatic elephants. “The biosphere is continuous forest in the Western Ghats in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. While Bandipur, Nagarhole and Mudumalai are in the Deccan plateau, the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Coimbatore and Erode region are in the plains. Every year hundreds of elephants move from the plateaus to plains in search of food. The path that connects two major habitats is called the elephant corridor. The Moyar elephant corridor was originally inhabited by locals who depended on agriculture for their livelihood. But, soon people from other parts of the country moved in and began constructing farmhouses which were later converted to resorts. Commercial tourism picked up and more resorts sprang up in the area.”

    The Nilgiris biosphere spans around 5,000 sq km and the Moyar elephant corridor where the resorts are located is a deep valley. “There are many villages in the region. According to a study done in 2008, there were only 40 resorts in Nilgiris. But, today, not only has the footfall increased but the number of resorts have grown exponentially. The local people didn’t want massive development in the area but unfortunately, it became a hub of resorts and real estate business. Majority of the resort owners in the region are from other parts of the country,” says N Mohanraj, adviser at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

    He adds that construction of any kind at an elephant corridor will have a huge impact on the environment and wildlife. “Elephants need lot of space to move around. They need huge areas of forest to feed, for shade and for water. If there are buildings all around, their movement can get restricted to a great extent.”

    Environmentalists blame tourism as one of the primary reasons for the construction of illegal resorts in the protected biosphere. “Resorts block the path of pachyderms and other wildlife. At night, tourists play loud music, have campfire and go on illegal safaris. People have been attacked by animals during such outings. All these incidents have happened in the Nilgiris over a period of time. Resorts are a huge disturbance to the habitat of elephants that travel long distances in a day,” says K Mohanraj.

    There is no forest without elephants. “Elephants play a crucial role in the eco-system. Elephants lay the roads in a forest and identify sources of water. In case of mild forest fire, the tracks laid by elephants can mitigate the damage. When elephants eat, they create gaps in vegetation and allow new plants to grow,” says Mohammad Saleem of Environment Conservation Group. Agreeing with his N Mohanraj, “Since they are big animals, they break down obstacles in the path. When an elephant dies, the carnivores like tigers and hyenas, feed on the carrion.”

    Kalidas says that it’s time we got a law that restricts the development of buildings in sensitive elephant corridors. “Those who operate tourism business in the area and tourists visiting the spots should be responsible and not cause any disturbance to the wildlife. We also need a strict law.”


  • Civic body chief inspects lake restoration work tnn | Aug 16, 2018, 01:14 IST

    Coimbatore: City corporation commissioner K Vijayakarthikeyan on Wednesday inspected the bund strengthening works of Periyakulam tank on Perur Bypass Road.

    The civic body had planned to restore and rejuvenate the Periyakulam Lake at the cost of Rs 39.74 crore in the first phase of the smart city mission project.

    The project was announced on July 5 along with three other projects - rejuvenation of walkers’ plaza along the road cutting across Valankulam lake of people promenade, rejuvenation of Valankulam lake (under valankulam flyover) and model road project at DB Road.

    According to civic body, under the project, the lake bunds will be strengthened, water will be desilted and treated. The contractors have started working on the project after holding consolation meeting with environmentalists and designers, who prepared a detailed project report.

    The source attributed the delay in the work to the incessant rains. He said the estimated time for work completion was 18 months. During the inspection, the commissioner directed the contractors to complete the project within the time frame and budget. A separate project management consultant was appointed to monitor the progress of the work, the source said. tnn


  • Three houses collapse as tanks, reservoirs overflow Nivedha Selvam | TNN | Updated: Aug 17, 2018, 05:53 IST

    COIMBATORE: Three houses were collapsed on Thursday morning as surplus water released from the Kurichi tank flooded the residential area at Sunnambu Kalvai in the city. No one was injured in the incident.

    The tank, with a storage capacity of 80 million cubic feet, started to overflow on Wednesday morning. Subsequently, Public Works Department (PWD) officials released the surplus water into the Noyyal through Sunnambu Kalvai channel at night. Around 2.30am on Thursday, water from the channel entered the residential area through a sewage line.

    Water entered 10 houses that were close to the channel and three of them collapsed as they couldn’t withstand the water flow, said S Anwar, 21, a resident of Sunnambu Kalvai, where more than 500 families have been residing for five decades. “The houses were 30 years old.”

    Pointing out that wastewater outlets of houses were directly connected to the channel, another resident S Abbas, 30, said, “Water also entered the houses through them.”

    City corporation officials have asked the residents to move to the housing unit at Anna Nagar in Kovaipudhur, as water flow in the Sunnambu Kalvai channel was likely to increase due to incessant rain. The residents were allotted housing units at Anna Nagar five months ago, but only a few of them had moved as many could not afford to pay Rs36,000. Officials said the residents have been demanding one house per family.

    The overall situation looks grim with 23 of the 24 tanks in the district overflowing due to continuous rain. The only exception is Vellalore tank. Similarly, all reservoirs, except the Tirumurthy reservoir, has been overflowing.

    District collector TN Hariharan has issued a flood alert to people living on the Bhavani river banks at Mettupalayam, as nearly 57,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) water was being released from the Pillur reservoir.

    “With rain continue to lash catchment areas in the Nilgiris, the reservoir has crossed the 95ft mark for the fifth time in less than two months,” the collector said. Bhavani river has been swelling following the water release from the Pillur reservoir.

    Several regions along the Bhavani, including Mettupalayam and Tekkampatti, have been flooded and residents were being moved to nearby marriage halls, said an official. “More than 86 families from Sirumugai have been moved to a nearby community hall.”

    The district administration has provided basic amenities such as food, water and medical facilities to the people, who have been moved to relief centres from their houses. “We have asked the public not to visit flooded regions,” an official said.

    The collector has also banned tourists from entering Valparai, Pollachi and Topslip for another three days, the official said.


  • Officials seal 14 Tasmac bars TNN | Updated: Aug 22, 2018, 07:54 IST

    COIMBATORE: At least 14 bars attached to Tasmac outlets in the north zone were sealed on Tuesday after license holders refused to pay the monthly tender amount. There are as many as 76 bars in the area and they together owe the district administration around Rs 2 crore.

    Six teams led by Tasmac north district manager Suresh and excise deputy commissioner Balasubramaniam on Tuesday went on a drive to shut the bars in the north zone after they defaulted on tender amount.

    “They had not paid the rent for June and July, despite repeated warnings. Each shop has to pay a tender amount based on its revenue from the shop and the bar attached to it, separately. However, they were not paying the amount due for the bars as they wanted to make more profit,” Balasubramaniam said.

    During the drive, six Tasmac shop contractors settled their dues as and collected receipts for the same. The district administration has plans to take a similar drive across the south zone where

  • Illegal water connection: Resident fined, pipeline operator suspended tnn | Aug 22, 2018, 00:40 IST

    Tirupur: Eetiverampalayam panchayat officials have slapped a fine of Rs 15,000 on a resident for illegally obtaining potable water pipeline connection and placed a temporary pipeline operator under suspension for dereliction of duty.

    A lion’s share of Eetiverampalayam panchayat residents had raised the issue of illegal pipeline connections after they didn’t get enough potable water. They had also brought to officials’ attention that some people were using electric motors to draw more water illegally. But, there was no action.

    Recently, a few residents staged a protest by blocking a state-run bus on Perumanallur-Malaiyappalayam road and sought action against the erring residents to ensure proper water supply.

    Following this, officials inspected the area and found that K Senthil of Sengali Thottam at Moiyandampalayam had illegally obtained pipe connection from a main water pipeline. They immediately severed the connection and imposed on him a fine of Rs 15,000. Pipeline operator S Velumani was also placed under suspension.

    Officials have also warned the residents, who are using electric motors to draw more water illegally.

    Meanwhile, Tamil Water Supply and Drainage officials said they had been taking steps to ensure regular supply of potable water to the residents.

  • Cleaning of lakes, riverbeds mark anti-plastics awareness campaign STAFF REPORTER
    COIMBATORE, AUGUST 26, 2018 00:00 IST
    UPDATED: AUGUST 26, 2018 03:51 IST

    Ministers S.P. Velumani (third left) and M.R. Vijayabaskar (second left) launching cloth bags at a programme on eradication of plastics at the Coimbatore Collectorate on Saturday..HANDOUT_E_MAIL

    Cleaning of lakes, riverbeds and public places in Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiris districts on Saturday marked the State-wide launch of anti-plastics awareness programme.

    In Coimbatore, Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development S.P. Velumani inaugurated the awareness programme at the Collectorate. The Minister appealed to the government departments to shun plastic folders and covers, plastic table cover, plastic-coated tea cups and containers.

    Speaking after inaugurating the programme, Mr. Velumani said that the government has taken steps to encourage entrepreneurs to manufacture more alternative products for plastics. A committee has been formed to guide people to prevent use of plastic products. The Minister called upon the people from every walk of life to contribute to preventing plastic usage and help future generations to enjoy a plastic-free State.

    The Nilgiris District Collector J. Innocent Divya inaugurated the programme by participating in the cleaning of plastic materials from boat house.

    She said that the district administration is taking all-out efforts to eradicate plastic fully from the district. Students distributed pamphlets on creating awareness against plastics among tourists.

    In Tirupur, Minister for Animal Husbandry Udumalai K. Radhakrishnan inaugurated the awareness programme and administered a pledge against plastic among the students and public and flagged off a rally at the Collectorate. To mark the occasion, Mr. Radhakrishnan along with District Collector K.S. Palanisamy inspected the cleaning of Noyyal river bed.


  • Panic as land caves in at hilly Valparai TNN | Aug 27, 2018, 00:01 IST

    Coimbatore: Panic and confusion swept Valparai after stretches of land caved in at several tea estates and residential areas.

    Land has caved in at residential areas and tea estates in Iyyarpadi, Nadumalai and Sholayar for over four feet deep, said police inspector P Thirumeni, adding that no causalities or injuries were reported. “As lands have mostly caved in at estates not bordering road, there has been no interruption for vehicle movement,” he said.

    Residents of 19 houses – five at Iyyarpadi and 14 at Sholayar – were evicted shortly after cracks developed. The evicted people were accommodated in nearby houses. “Initially, when the land caved in a week ago, the cracks were small. As the days passed, their depth and width started to increase. At some places, the cracks are four feet deep,” the officer said.

    A part of land in Nadumalai tea estate has caved in by four feet, said S Kalaishankar, a tea estate worker. “Since the incident took place at night, nobody was inured. Initially, the cracks occurred along a water body. Later on, it started to spread. Land has caved in over a kilometre radius in the tree plantation region in the estate. Since plants have been buried in the cracks, the exact depth of the cracks remains unknown. The estate management has prevented workers from visiting the place,” he told TOI.

    While the residents said that they had never faced such a situation, experts said soil could have loosened due to incessant rain. “It might be either because of the heavy rainfall or due to geographical reasons,” said P Santhy, a professor at the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) specialized in soil health management. “Regions in and around Pollachi and Valparai are epicentres because of the arrangement of tectonic plates. The cracks could have occurred because of that. The exact reason could be identified only after testing the soil,” she said.


  • SMART IDEA: This tree charges your phone, provides free Wi-Fi

    Nivedha Selvam | TNN | Aug 27, 2018, 00:04 IST

    Coimbatore: Municipal administration minister SP Velumani on Sunday inaugurated a ‘smart tree’ at VOC Park under which people can rest and browse the internet using free Wi-Fi connectivity.

    The Rs 30lakh structure, installed under the smart city mission project, is situated on a 900sqft plot at the park. “While its trunk is made of metal rods covered with fibre, the leaves are made of zinc. It is equipped with a solar panel that can generate 1,500watts. But it will consume only 1,100watts. Ten benches have been placed under the tree and over 30 people can sit there at a time.

    Those within a range of 350meters can use the Wi-Fi. Multiple charging points to charge mobile phones have also been provided,” said R Maha Prabhu of JC Media Entertainment, the company that set it up.

    The city corporation will soon set up 24 such structures at bus stations, parks and major junctions across the city, the minister said.

    “To create awareness about government programmes, notifications will be displayed round-the-clock on an LCD panel at the facility. Over 15 advertisement boards have been set up around the structure. The company will operate and maintain the facility and will generate income by displaying advertisements on the hoardings there. Including advertisement tax, the civic body will earn about Rs 18.25lakh a month from the 25 trees,” a civic body official told TOI.

    “The designers opted for an artificial structure since a real tree would wither over a period of time and the entire structure needs to be replaced after that. We have asked them to set up such a facility under a real tree,” the official added.

    “We are designing such structures as per the requirements of the civic body. We plan to add CCTV cameras, drinking water facilities and rainwater harvesting system in future,” Prabhu added.