Sixty-one check dams, grade walls and bed dams are to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 117 crore across the Cauvery tributaries. This will improve irrigation facilities and recharge groundwater in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts.

The government stated this in a counter affidavit filed in response to a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to the authorities to construct check dams and storage dams across the Coleroon and recharge the depleting aquifer in the delta districts.

The petitioner, K. Rajendran, an advocate and president of the Social Action Team, Mayiladuthurai, submitted that the town once had copious surface water flow through the Cauvery tributaries.

Though Mayiladuthurai and Kumbakonam were situated on the banks of a river, they faced drinking water scarcity due to depletion of the water table in the Coleroon and the Cauvery. This was because of indiscriminate sand mining. Also water was drawn on a large scale from the river beds.

When the PIL came up before the First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Satish K. Agnihotri and Justice M. M. Sundresh, the authorities filed a counter in which it was stated that the Tamil Nadu Water Resources Department was constructing a check dam across the Cauvery near Kambarasampettai in Tiruchi district for recharging groundwater and to improve drinking water supply. Further, it was proposed to construct check dams, grade wall and bed dams across the Cauvery tributaries in the delta districts. As part of this effort, administrative sanction had been accorded in October for 11 grade walls and 14 check dams across the tributaries. Drains had been dug under NABARD loan assistance at an estimated cost of Rs.67.68 crore in Thanjavur district. The remaining works would be taken up in a phased manner.

A government-constituted committee for utilisation of flood flows during the North-East monsoon had recommended the construction of a barrage below the Lower Coleroon anicut.

This had been included under the “Improvements and Rehabilitation of Irrigation System” in the Cauvery basin for funding under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

The Bench said that in the light of the authorities’ stand, it was disposing of the petition.

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