Special Correspondent

COIMBATORE: Siruthuli, a people's initiative in the district to conserve water resources, has initiated a watershed programme at Madhvarayapuram, more than 30 km west of the city, with assistance from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

Siruthuli has already de-silted tanks in the city and is into a massive programme for reviving River Noyyal. The river flows through Madhvarayapuram.

The micro-level watershed programme has been sanctioned by NABARD to irrigate 1,300 h.a. of agriculture lands in the Madhvarayapuram Village Panchayat that is located at the foothills of the Western Ghats, near the origin of the river.

District Collector P. Umanath inaugurated the project recently and highlighted its benefits to the farm economy of the region.

Commissioner of Income-Tax-I Ashutosh Chandra, Thondamuthur MLA M.N. Kandasamy, Assistant General Manager of NABARD V. Suresh, president of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangham K.C. Rathinasamy, Chairman of Siruthuli S.V. Balasubramaniam and Managing Trustee Vanitha Mohan were present.

Farmers

Siruthuli said the project was a long-felt need of the farming community in Nallurvayal, Sadivayal, Alandurai, Madhvarayapuram and Kallipalayam areas.

Siruthuli had been interacting with the farmers of these regions and they were also taken on an exposure visit to the Kadavakurichi watershed project implemented by the Centre for Improved Rural Health and Environmental Protection (CIRHEP) at Nilakottai Taluk in Dindigul district in 2008.

Components

A CIRHEP representative gave a presentation on various components executed in the project area and the distinct roles played by the community, the implementing agency and the funding agency, NABARD.

A village watershed committee had been formed with the beneficiary farmers for ensuring smooth and fruitful execution of works.

Norms

As per the norms of NABARD, shramdan works were carried out by the beneficiary farmers towards which they contributed 720 person days for the following activities: clearing the bushes, removal of blocks along the canal to ensure free flow of water, sectioning of a canal and desilting three check dams.

After the total implementation of the Madhvarayapuram watershed project, Siruthuli would take up a macro-level project for an area of 400 sq. km., west of Coimbatore. It would be implemented in five years.

Livelihood assistance was distributed to tribal women at the function at Madhvarayapuram.

Siruthuli said that the assistance and the watershed project constituted an integrated rural development programme.

A rope-making implement sponsored by Sanskar, a voluntary organisation, was handed over to a group of six tribal women.

Siruthuli said that the Collector had asked it to submit a technical feasibility report and arrive at cost estimates for increasing the water holding area of the Nandagarai checkdam.

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