: An ambitious dam desilting project is to be implemented in Tamil Nadu to restore their storage capacity lost due to siltation.

The Public Works Department Minister, K. V. Ramalingam, informed the Assembly on Thursday that the Vaigai and Amaravathi reservoirs would be desilted on a pilot basis. Expressions of interest from national and international agencies to desilt, segregate and grade the silt for sale were now under the scrutiny of officials. A technical committee had been constituted to provide guidance to the Water Resources Department to implement the project.

Dam rehabilitation

The strength and safety of 18 dams would be strengthened and their operational performance improved under the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project. It would be implemented in 104 dams in four phases at an estimated cost of Rs 745.49 crore, with World Bank assistance. Mr. Ramalingam said a project agreement had been signed with the WB and a project management unit constituted for its implementation. The empowered committee, constituted for the purpose, had approved the estimate for 18 dams, including Vidur, Manimuthar, Nambiyar, Servalar and Kodaganar, in the first phase. Preparation of hydrological study report for 42 dams was in progress.

To augment the storage capacity of all water bodies, Mr. Ramalingam announced that 25 tanks, each with over 1,000 acres of cultivable area, would be desilted at a cost of Rs 25 crore. The Sethiathoppu dam across the Vellar in Cuddalore district would be renovated at a cost of Rs 19.7 crore and a sum of Rs 14.5 crore would be spent on the Nandan canal in Tiruvannamalai and Gingee taluks.

The other projects for improving water sources included strengthening of the bunds of Kottaiyadi Canal, Erappaiyaru and Chunkanodai in Kanyakumari district (Rs 3.9 crore); renovation of Alathur anicut and supply channel in Tiruvannamalai district (Rs 1.23 crore) and renovation of Kuniyamuthur dam and supply channel and Krishna Iyengar Canal in Coimbatore district (Rs 1.15 crore). The Pelandurai regulator across the Vellar in Cuddalore district would be renovated at a cost of Rs 17.5 crore.

Renovation of existing water bodies and construction of check dams would be taken up at a cost of Rs 34.55 crore. The works include renovation of Tirumangalam main canal in Madurai district, construction of check dams across the Pambar in Krishnagiri district; the Kambainallur and Kovilar in Dharmapuri district; the Hanumanadhi in Tirunelveli district and across Uppodai in Tuticorin district.

A supply channel would be laid from Kuththoor tank to Kagankarai tank in Vellore district at a cost of Rs two crore. Bridges across rivers, including a causeway across the Kudirayar in Dindigul district, would be constructed at a cost of Rs 5.87 crore. Steps would be taken to install solar power systems at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore in circuit houses and inspection bungalows, the Minister added.