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Tirunelveli district faces water crisis

Special Correspondent
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Precarious storage in dams

Boat service in the Papanasam dam has been suspended owing to poor water level.— Photo: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN
Boat service in the Papanasam dam has been suspended owing to poor water level.— Photo: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN

Dwindling storage level in dams and no sign of rains in the catchment areas has become a cause of worry for the Tirunelveli district administration. It conducted a meeting to review the situation and gear up the official machinery for possibly a worst summer.

The level in the Papanasam Dam stands at 34.50 feet as against its maximum capacity of 143 feet and water level at Manimuthar dam is 63.86 feet as against its full capacity of 118 feet. Since silt might have got accumulated for about 25 feet in all the reservoirs over the years, the Papanasam Dam may have water for about 10 feet, which clearly tells the precarious situation.

To make things worse, flow into all dams has become so meagre that it stands anywhere between 5 to 10 cusecs over the past several weeks. While most of the areas falling under the Corporation is getting drinking water supply once in three or four days, duration of water supply to the areas that were getting regular supply has been restricted to just an hour.

Sensing the impending danger, the district administration has started taking precautionary measures to tackle the crisis.

Chairing the meeting held at the Collectorate on Monday, Collector M. Karunakaran asked the officials to be proactive towards any complaint pertaining to drinking water supply and allowed his subordinates to sanction deep borewells wherever it was required. He also asked the officers to methodically regulate the supply of drinking water to the residents with the available quantum of water.

Though the district administration has sanctioned a good number of deep borewells for the rural areas to neutralise the intensity of the crisis to some extent, the successive monsoon failure for the past five years in this region may negate all these efforts. Since the groundwater table has gone down alarmingly due to scanty rainfall for the past several years, even 300-foot deep borewells in Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai are almost dry now.

In the rural areas, especially in the entire stretch between Tirunelveli and Sankarankovil, the situation is still worse as the groundwater-level has gone down below 600 feet in the areas around Thevarkulam, Melaneelithanallur, Panaivadalichathram and their surroundings.

“We’ve sunk borewells in these dry regions in the past, but in vain as groundwater level has gone down,” said a PWD official.

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