1,000 farm ponds allotted for district; 90 p.c. of farm lands have suffered over 50 p. c. crop loss

With Perambalur district recording alarmingly low levels of rainfall, the 1,000 farm ponds allocated for the district could turn out to be a boon.

The district is at the bottom of the chart in the State in terms of GDP and most of the population is dependent on agriculture.

As against the normal annual rainfall of 908 mm, the district received only 608 mm in 2012. In the current year too , it has been very poor. Till date, the district has received only 37 mm. Almost all the major crops raised during 2012, including cotton, maize and small onion, have been badly hit by drought.

District Collector Darez Ahmed has assessed that almost 90 per cent of the cultivated areas in the district have suffered a loss of more than 50 per cent and the State government has allocated Rs. 62 crore as compensation for 1.8 lakh acres.

Saraswathi Ganesan, project officer, District Rural Development Agency, points out that the main objective of the farm ponds is to manage and improve the groundwater level. “They would help the entire society by fulfilling not only the drinking water needs of human beings but also the cattle. Besides, recharging of groundwater would be ensured. In order to strengthen the rainwater harvesting system, proper catchment areas are being identified and farm ponds are created.”

Out of the 1,000 farm ponds allotted, administrative sanction has been given for 618 to be carried out in various parts of the district.

She told The Hindu that 15X 15 metre pit ponds of 1 metre depth had been planned all over the district, especially in the land of SC/ST farmers, marginal farmers and small farmers holding two acres to five acres. The total amount to be spent on construction of each pond would be Rs.1.5 lakh.

Under the programme, small farmers would be able to create a pond under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) along with regular works such deepening of ponds, “ooranies”, stabilisation of minor irrigation tanks and deepening of supply channel and other waterways.

She said that all the pond works have been going on in full swing in Siruvachur, Chatthiramanai, Bommanapadi, Kalarampatti, Pudunaduvalur, Eraiyur, Nelkuppai, Noothapur Annamangalam, Udumbiyam, Mavilangai, Aiyanapuram, Kolakkanatham, Kolappadi, Vaistapuram, and Athiyur.

For the remaining 382, sites were being identified and administrative sanction would be accorded shortly.

Creation of farm ponds has been entrusted to the workers enrolled under the MNREGS.

Ms. Ganesan said that more than 1.21 lakh households have been registered under the programme and about 1.18 lakh job cards had been issued so far.

She said that it had been estimated that 4.78 lakh man-days would be generated while digging up these 1,000 ponds and the estimated expenditure was about Rs.7 crore. In order to avoid migration of workers, she had allotted seven to nine works per village panchayat.

She was confident that this would positively result in recharging water resources in the region and at the end of this summer, many small farmers would have rainwater harvesting facilities at their own land and the water table would definitely show substantial increase. .