It irrigates 2,000 acres directly and 5,000 acres indirectly by recharging wells in its periphery

The Paandagappadi tank near Veppanthattai, one of the major irrigation sources in Perambalur district, has dried up completely for the first-time in almost four decades, causing much consternation among farmers and residents. The tank has remained dry for the past few months, taking down the water table not just around Veppanthattai panchayat union limits, but also in far off places up to V. Kalathur, farmers complain. The Veppanthattai union will face severe water crisis if the tank did not receive adequate water , they added.

The Paandagapaddi tank, spread over about 300 acres of land, was renovated in 1985 and has been holding up plentiful water received through jungle streams. The tank directly irrigates 2,000 acres and benefits 5,000 acres of land by recharging the wells in its periphery.

The locals also made good money through inland fishing when the tank thrived with abundance. The sprawling tank also attracted birds from even foreign countries.

“We never expected the tank to go fully dry and it’s a shock to every one. The surrounding villages have already started feeling the pinch as the water table has gone down even in far off areas,” says C.Palanimuthu, president, Paandagapadi village panchayat. The farmers of Paandagapadi and the nearby villages also face the problem of animals straying into their fields in search of water, particularly during summers. Animals like deer, rabbits, peacocks, and monkeys enter the fields from the Venbavur forest area and destroy not only the standing paddy and maize, but also casuarinas and teak plantations.

Though the soil condition in these villages is best suited for maize, many farmers prefer alternative crops to keep wild animals at bay, as most of these wild animals prefer to feed on maize, says Mr. Palanimuthu. The seriousness of the problem could be gauged from the fact that many farmers have received compensation from the forest department in the past.

The locals have been demanding the forest department for a long time to set up mini water ponds in the reserve forest area and fencing forest boundaries to prevent animals from entering the fields, he adds.