In order to augment their water holding capacity

: The need to improve the available 39,000 tanks in the State in order to augment their water holding capacity was highlighted by experts in water management at a meeting held here on Saturday.

Addressing newsmen on the sidelines of Dhan Foundation's ‘Madurai Symposium,' which concluded on Sunday, the experts said that this had become imperative in the context of climate change because of which higher rainfall in coastal areas and deficient rainfall in interior places would coexist.

K. Palanisamy, Director, International Water Management Institute, Hyderabad, said that storage facilities should be augmented to improve capacity and also avert floods.

Water should be conserved through application of management technology in rehabilitation of tanks. He highlighted the need to form a technology-oriented institution to take technology to the field.

The implementation of technology should follow the Gujarat model.

There should be a capacity building programme for farmers to use cost-effective technology.

He suggested that drip irrigation be made mandatory for farmers in areas not fed by water systems. Dr. Palanisamy was of the view that mechanisation of farming was the solution to labour shortage.

M. P. Vasimalai, Executive Director, Dhan Foundation, said that application of technology should start from the farmers. A. Gurunathan of Dhan Foundation said that though many technologies were available for water management, capacity building was essential to sustain them. He cited the example of M. Saverarpattinam in Ramanathapuram district where about 250 farm ponds had been created with the involvement of farmers.

M. Palanisamy, who is involved in rainfed farming development programme, said that climate change had hit rainfed crops badly. It had necessitated a delay of one month for sowing of seeds, from the usual Tamil month of Aadi, and led to frequent crop failures. Farmers, he said, should be allowed to carry the silt in water bodies for use in their fields.

Technology should be taken to small and marginal farmers.