Canals in Tiruchi-Karur region choking with trash

G. Sathyamoorthi
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Water supply to delta can improve if garbage isremoved from these canals, say farmers

PICTURE OF NEGLECT:A portion of the Aiyyan Channel, near Pettavaithalai bus stand that has become a dump yard.— PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM
PICTURE OF NEGLECT:A portion of the Aiyyan Channel, near Pettavaithalai bus stand that has become a dump yard.— PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM

Without removing silt from the canals in Karur-Tiruchi region, optimum storage and free flow of water to the delta would be a pipe dream, says Mahadhanapuram V. Rajaram, working president, and Koundampatty R. Subramani, deputy secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, respectively.

While Mr. Rajaram laments that not even the annual maintenance of the canals have been taken up so far despite this being the ideal time (before the rains start and the water starts flowing from the Mettur Dam), Mr. Subramani alleges that it has been more than 10 years since removing silt had been taken up in the canals in the region measuring about 600 km.

L. Vaithilingam, a retired village administrative officer living at Thiruparaithurai, who has served in the Tiruchi region for almost three decades, admits that it is more than seven years since he had seen any activity of removing silt in the canals here. These canals carry not only the water from the Cauvery but also rainwater.

Mr. Rajaram wonders how even top officials fail to see the importance of canals in Karur-Tiruchi region while harping on removing silt from the canals only in Thanjavur-Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam region.

“After all Nagapattinam is already is a low-lying region and water will definitely flow whereas it is Karur-Tiruchi region with major canals such as South Bank Canal, High Level Canal and North Bank Canal, apart from any number of smaller ones that require immediate attention. The very canal-irrigation system that is in place in Tamil Nadu for ages becomes meaningless,” he says.

Mr. Subramani points out that as much as two lakh acres of land, mostly wetlands, between Kattalai Bed Regulator (Mayanur) and Grand Anicut, are served by several canals. The 17 canals cover not only in Karur and Tiruchi but also Thanjavur and Ariyalur districts. While there are canals such as Uyyakondan with an ayauct of 32,000 acres of land, there are any number of smaller ones with even 500 to 1,000 acres of ayacut. Uyyakondan canal’s capacity is 750 cusecs.

Mr. Vaithilingam laments that almost 1.5 km of the Ayyan Vaikal near Pettavaithalai has become a full-fledged drainage. He points out that it is only Pullambadi canal that serves considerable dry land and there is hardly any other dry land in Tiruchi region.

Mr. Rajaram says it is customary that minor repairs of the water bodies are taken up annually at the local level with permission from the Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, who would allocate some amount for the same. And major works had to be taken up only with the permission of the State government.

“Despite making so much hue and cry about water in the Cauvery, it is unfortunate that nothing has been done even at the local level in terms of maintenance,” he says.

Mr. Subramani says not a drop of water that flows through the lands in the Karur-Tiruchi region is wasted and the excess water runs only to Grand Anicut. As Grand Anicut becomes the drainage for the Karur-Tiruchi region, it gets 1,500 cusecs through this source which could be used for delta irrigation. He is categorical that it would not be possible for those registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to undertake these works, especially removing silt and weeds like Neyveli kattamanakku and hyacinth. “It would be ideal if the PWD were to take them up at the earliest.”

When pointed out that shortage of labour could derail such plans, he says that it is possible to use earthmovers and excavators.

According to official sources, who requested anonymity, proposals had been sent to the State government for removing silt from various canals and they are awaiting fund allocation.

  • It has been more than 10 years since any activity has been seen on these canals

  • These canals not only carry Cauvery water but also rainwater which flows into Grand Anicut




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