There is big news from Big Tank (Periakulam), Ukkadam. It is getting dressed up to receive the South West Monsoon, expected to hit the Kerala coast in a few weeks. As part of the dressing up operation, the tank is losing flab – it is getting cleaned to hold more water. Preparing the tank is the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) with assistance from Siruthuli, an NGO, and Vijayalakshmi Trust. RAAC, after obtaining permission from the authorities concerned, has planned to remove four – five lakh cubic metre earth from the tank bed to improve its storage.

It has planned to use the excavated earth to strengthen the tank’s bunds and build mounds to form islands. On the four islands, RAAC will plant saplings that will grow into fruit bearing trees for birds to feed and roost.

R. Raveendran of RAAC says that the organisation commenced the work on May 2 after District Collector M. Karunagaran issued the necessary orders. His only condition was that the excavated earth should not be taken out of the tank.

In the last two weeks, the organisation has excavated 75,000 cubic metre earth, which it has used for increasing the height of bunds where it exists and formation of new bunds on the western front.

With the excavated earth, the RAAC has strengthened and formed bunds measuring eight feet around the tank for 6 km.

Of the 6 km, the newly-laid bund extend for up to 2 km, says K. Mylswami of Siruthuli. The organisation has provided technical assistance.

He says that with the excavated earth, the RAAC has formed four of the two mounds. The first has a 40 m diameter at the base and the second 50 m. The other two are yet to be formed.

At present the RAAC has engaged 15 vehicles and 50 men – all sponsored by the Vijayalakshmi Trust. The men will work in two shifts in the coming days to complete the work prior to the onset of monsoon. Mr. Raveendran says that in forming the bund, the organisation has been able to remove encroachments and also clean the main inlet canal – the Coimbatore Canal, which carries water from River Noyyal.

The organisation has planned to rope in members of the public who could spare two hours work on Sundays till June 4. Starting May 19, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., the city’s residents will be welcome to work at the Big Tank.

By the time the work is completed, the organisation will have worked on nearly 240 of the 320 acres of the tank. The remaining 80 acres is under water.

Mr. Mylswami says that for every one cubic metre excavated, the tank’s capacity will increase by 1,000 litres. And for the four – five lakh cubic metre, the tank’s storage will go up by 5,000 lakh cubic metre. In addition to this, the RAAC will dig recharge shafts with harvesting structures to minimise the flow of water through the surplus weir. This move is as suggested by the Central Ground Water Board.