To refurbish old tail-end sluices and construct new ones

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday unveiled a Rs 1,560-crore project to refurbish old tail-end sluices and construct new ones in the Cauvery delta districts to conserve rainwater during the monsoon and take measures to prevent incursion of sea water into agriculture lands. “Of the total Rs. 1,560 crore, Asian Development Bank will give Rs 1,092 crore as loan and the rest will be contributed by the State government,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said in a suo motu statement in the Assembly.

She said the project would benefit the whole of Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts and 4.50 lakh acres of land in one section of Thanjavur district irrigated by the Cauvery, Vennar and Grant Anicut irrigation canals.

The Chief Minister said the project envisaged the reconstruction of tail-end regulators and the infrastructure connected with them. Besides, more sluices would be constructed in tail-end areas to store the rainwater for irrigation. “By this arrangement, groundwater level will be recharged and the water level in wells will go up,” she said.

“Besides improving drainage in the delta districts, the project will also prevent seepage of sea water into land. The scheme will be implemented immediately on priority basis and will improve drainage in the delta region, the rice bowl of the State,” she said.

Explaining the rationale for conceiving such a mega project, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that in 40 years, the sea level was likely to rise and lead to salt water flowing into agriculture land.

“In some places irrigation will be completely affected. The seepage will change the nature of the groundwater and increase salinity. Sea water is also likely to flow through the drainages in the tail-end areas and prevent the draining of rainwater into the sea,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

She said the level of the Cauvery Delta region was on a par with sea level for 25 km and heavy rains during the north-east monsoon tended to severely affect the drainage system.

“As there is no facility to store rainwater, it flows into the sea and it cannot be used during the summer,” she said, adding that there was a need to overcome the situation.

Congress member N.R. Rangarajan expressed the hope that the project entailed construction of check-dams, tail-end regulators and new sluices.