After removing silt from the Ukkadam Big Tank bed, the representatives of the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC), Siruthuli and Vijayalakshmi Trust waited for the monsoon-ready Tank to receive water. But it was not to be.
Water flowed on River Noyyal’s bed but not into the Tank. They were wondering what could have gone wrong. Even as they were trying to find out how to take water to the Tank, a group of fishermen with traditional fishing rights walked upstream, along the inlet channel to only discover that the over wash weir near LIC Nagar had been damaged on Tuesday afternoon.
They also found out that because of the damage, water that ought to flow in the supply channel was flowing towards River Noyyal, said C.K. Arumugam, head of the fishermen’s group.
Water flows into the supply channel when the shutters at Vaikalpalayam, near Perur, are opened to divert water from River Noyyal to the Big Tank.
They immediately asked those near the shutters at Vaikalpalayam to bring down the gates to stop the flow of water.
The fishermen then attempted to replace the stones to arrest the flow of water. But that was of no use as the flow of water in the channel was heavy. They then placed around 150 sand bags. Again it was of no use. They placed a few more bags but that too did not help. “We gave up around 5.30 p.m.,” said N. Rajkumar, another fisherman.
On Wednesday morning, the fishermen approached the representatives who were working at the Big Tank. Within hours of the fishermen’s report, the representatives of RAAC, Siruthuli and Vijayalakshmi Trust were there with their machinery to repair the weir.
By 3 p.m., with the help of two earthmovers, the representatives arrested the flow of water into River Noyyal through the weir. And by using two other bulldozers they cleaned silt that had gathered beneath causeways and culverts that were across the supply channel.
The channel was ready to take water to the Big Tank, said C.G.S. Manion, an Apex Committee member of Siruthuli.
Cleaning channels was as important as removing silt from tanks, said Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee, Siruthuli.
The organisation along with the RAAC and Trust planned to request the district administration to convene a meeting to study the channel system and explore the possibility of cleaning the channels.
A PWD official said that the Department had taken up the upkeep of the Tank a couple of years ago and did very little in the subsequent two years because of shortage of funds.
It got around Rs. 25 lakh a year from the Government, which it used to maintain tanks and channels one after another, year by year.