There is an ambitious plan to build 1,000 farm ponds in Karur district this financial year to harness available water in rain-deficit areas and maximise use of water in more farm-friendly regions.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has come in handy for the district administration to venture into the programme.

While the sanctioned number of farm ponds for the district was only 800, the utility value of the ponds that double as fish pond and as groundwater rechargers, as seen by the Agriculture Business Manager in District Collector S. Jayandhi, increased the target to 1,000 farm ponds in the district during the current fiscal. Incidentally, she holds a Master’s in Agriculture with an MBA to boot.

“Each farm pond costs Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh depending on the size but is being built absolutely free of cost to the farmer beneficiary under the MGNREGS. If the beneficiary desires, then it is converted into a fish pond that helps increase agricultural income as desired by the Chief Minister,” she said after inspecting a few works in progress.

So far, administrative sanction had been accorded to 198 farm ponds for a cost of Rs. 1.40 crore while 134 of them had been completed. Supply of fingerlings had been recommended to 120 beneficiaries who desired to convert them to fish ponds, she said and added that the Department of Fisheries would supply fingerlings at a subsidised price to the farm pond beneficiaries very soon.

For a district such as Karur that had dry, arid lands in the west, and lush green landscape in the east and north, the farm pond scheme under the MGNREGS was a boon to innovative farmers who could make use of the effort to either harness available water in the dry areas and boost the water table in the fertile areas, Ms. Jayandhi said.

The experience of the recent drought would have awakened farmers on the need for conserving available water in as many ways as possible.

District Rural Development Agency Project director Ramesh and Executive Engineer Kavitha accompanied the Collector during the assessment of performance and progress of works in K. Paramathi, Thanthoni, and Aravakurichi blocks of the district.