D.K. Dasarathan of Panapakkam village, Tiruvallur district, enjoys better water table levels in his well when compared to other places even in this sweltering heat. The stretch of the Araniar river in his village still has some water, thanks to a checkdam.
In a bid to replicate this situation in other villages along the 66.4-km-long river, the water resources department is constructing checkdams on the river to trap four thousand million cubic of feet of water (tmcft), which otherwise drains into the sea through Pulicat lake. The river depends on monsoon for its flow.
Of the five checkdams recently approved, four have been completed in 43.Panapakkam, Sengathakulam, Paleswaram and A. Reddy Palayam. The fifth checkdam in Kalpattu near Uthukottai (which is the State’s entry point of Kandaleru Poondi canal) is nearing completion. This Rs. 2.6-crore-project is set to increase the groundwater table in nearly 10 villages, including Enampakkam and Tholavedu.
As the new checkdam is being constructed in the location between the two other checkdams in 43.Panapakkam and Sengathakulam, ground water table has already improved, say residents. Most villages depend on the river and the borewells for irrigation and drinking water needs.
Mr. Dasarathan said that the villagers grow groundnut, paddy and chilly in the region and largely use water from borewells.
At present, the river has gone dry except for some stretches where there are checkdams. The water level now remains at 30 feet due to the check dams built nearby. Earlier, the water table was below 70 feet. “We use water from borewell for drinking too and the panchayats too supply the water through overhead tanks,” he said.
Officials of the WRD said that the checkdam at Kalpattu will be built across the 180 metre wide river at a height of 1.2 metre. This would save water from draining into sea and recharge aquifers in the neighbouring villages and 63 wells in a one-km-radius.
Nearly 95 per cent of the project has been completed and the construction would be over this month-end, said an official. The department has spent about Rs.25.77 crore so far in constructing such structures to recharge the surface and groundwater. The Araniar river, which originates in Andhra Pradesh, feeds nearly 215 tanks in various villages enroute in Gummidipoondi, Uthukottai and Ponneri taluks.
Residents demanded that more checkdams must be built across the river to save the surplus water from draining into the sea and also increase groundwater potential on which the villages are dependent on their livelihood.