It is a pilot project to work out modalities for all tanks

Public Works Department has taken up removal of Prosopis juliflora (karuvelam) and other trees from Sellur tank. The work is being carried out as a pilot project to study the cost and process of removal of wild growth to be taken up in all irrigation tanks as per a High Court order.

“We have identified two tanks – Sellur tank and Chinnapuliyankulam tank (near Athikulam) – along the city limits to augment groundwater table,” PWD Chief Engineer (Madurai Region) E. Tamilarasan said.

Sellur tank with abandoned ayacut could become one of the major water storage bodies for the city. The work that began on Monday is expected to be over in 15 days.

“We can convert it into a good rainwater harvesting structure to recharge groundwater table,” P. Dhanapalan, Executive Engineer, Periyar-Vaigai Basin Circle, said.

As much as 30 to 40 per cent of the dry bed of the tank with a water-spread area of 95 acres has got a jungle growth.

The trees are two to four years old. The removal of the thorny plants and trees was being done with an earthmover.

Karuvelam trees were exhausting the groundwater in the densely populated area of Sellur, Sub-Divisional Engineer K. Jothi Basu said.

The roots of the trees travel deep into the soil and gobble up the nutrients in the soil. The trees have no other purpose other than being used as fuel.

“The thick vegetation of Prosopis juliflora blocks the water flow into the tank during rainy season. Hence, precious water from the Vaigai is not adequately stored in the tank, but drains away wastefully,” Assistant Engineer C.P. Mohankumar said.

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