Parts of Madurai district, including Melur and Thirumangalam, are to get Cauvery water when the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board’s drinking water supply project, estimated to cost Rs.586 crore, is operational.

Under the project, 81 million litres a day (MLD) will be supplied to three municipalities, six town panchayats and 1,431 rural habitations in Madurai district and one town panchayat of Sivaganga district.

Avaniapuram is one of the municipalities to be covered, a board official says, adding that the limits of the Madurai Municipal Corporation will not be served.

Present plan

As per the present plan, Cauvery water will be tapped from near Mettu Mahadanapuram upstream of Kulithalai. The total length of water conveyance line will be 380 km from the source point. Sub-surface water will be drawn by digging three collector wells.

As many as 100 board officials have been deployed for the project.

The official says that the project report will be ready by the month-end.

Originally, the project was to cover three municipalities, four town panchayats and 155 rural habitations. At that time, the cost of supplying water worked out to around Rs.37 per kilo litre.

As the government considered it to be high, the board was directed to come up with an alternative plan that would bring down the cost. Under the revised plan, the cost comes to approximately Rs.17 per KL.

The official explains that initially the board considered tapping water from the Vaigai dam. As this source was not regarded as sustainable, the TWAD Board decided to bring Cauvery water to Madurai district.

Areas to be covered

At present, the areas to be covered under the project are using local sources. By extending Cauvery water, the service level in rural habitations will go up to 40 litres per capita per day (LPCD); 90 LPCD in urban local bodies and 135 LPCD in municipalities where underground sewer schemes have been envisaged.

As regards urban local bodies (ULBs), funds will be drawn through the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), which broadly comes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

As for the rural habitations, the cost of the project will be met through the Minimum Needs Programme. The Union Ministry of Urban Development has already given the approval in principle for Rs.258 crore.

The official says the remaining amount will be provided by the State government.

Asked whether the latest drinking water supply project, using the Cauvery as the source, will have any adverse effect on farmers for agriculture, the TWAD Board official replies in the negative and adds that the quantum of water to be drawn for the Madurai district project will not even be one thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) - to be precise, 0.98 (rpt: 0.98) tmcft.

As of now, 29.37 tmcft of Cauvery water is used for all the drinking water projects.

This includes the recently-commissioned Ramanathapuram combined water supply project, which requires 1.2 tmcft. The proposed Hogenakkal and Vellore water supply projects envisage 1.3 tmc ft each, the official adds.

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