₹1,120-crore Mullaperiyar project is gaining momentum

On June 30, 2017, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who kicked off the State-wide birth centenary celebration of late Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran in Madurai, announced a new project to bring drinking water directly from Mullaperiyar dam to serve Madurai city’s growing population.

The scheme was announced to address the water crisis which is severe in summer when many parts of the city get water once in four days. The Mullaperiyar drinking water project, with an outlay of ₹1,120 crore, envisaged laying a 143-km-long pipeline from Lower Camp near Gudalur to Madurai city. “Once implemented, an additional 125 million litres per day can be provided to meet the needs of about 20 lakh residents,” the then Corporation Commissioner S. Aneesh Sekhar had said.

After nearly two years, the project is gathering steam, what with various approvals being sanctioned, Central government allocating funds and international organisations stepping in to infuse funds. Will this ambitious project quench the thirst of this growing city?


Madurai currently receives 115 mld from Vaigai dam through two drinking water pipelines. The city also receives 11 mld from the Cauvery Integrated Drinking Water Scheme and 44 mld from riverbed sources - by sinking infiltration wells off Thachampathu, Kochadai, Melakkal, Thuvariman and other places on the Vaigai.

This amounts to a total of 170 mld in normal circumstances. But in summer, the Corporation could can draw a maximum of 150 mld only. This shortfall results in many parts of the city getting water supply once in two or four days. Since there is a constant flow of migrants from rural areas to the city, the population of the city increases every year. So the additional 125 mld from the Mullaperiyar project would be a definite requirement to meet the projected needs, says incumbent Corporation Commissioner S. Visakan.

Going into the details of the project, Mr. Visakan says that in the first phase, water will be transported from Lower Camp to Pannaipatti, 95 km away.

The Corporation has identified a two acre land to establish headworks there. The water will be treated at a new treatment plant. Two other treatment plants are already there to process water for the Vaigai Pipeline 1 and Pipeline 2. This will form the second phase of the project.

After being treated, the water will travel from Pannaipatti to Madurai for a 54-km stretch. This is the third phase.

Water will be pumped all the way, though it was initially decided to go for micro tunneling using gravity.

In the fourth phase, the Corporation plans to rework the entire water distribution system through the core city and added wards by replacing the main feeder lines, laying new ones and bringing in a smart water meter system. The detailed project report (DPR) is being prepared and will be sent for government approval, Mr. Visakan says.

The project is largely funded by the Central government through Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will fund 30% to 33% of the budget. The Tamil Nadu government and the Corporation will also chip in with their share.


The Corporation Commissioner says the whole expanse of Madurai will receive drinking water, and round-the-clock too.

The Corporation provides only 105 to 120 lpcd now. However, the Bureau of Indian Standards 1172: 1993, reaffirmed in 1998, stipulates 150-200 lpcd (Litres per Capita per Day) as the basic requirement for a resident. With the completion of Mullaperiyar project, this requirement can be met, says Mr. Visakan.

When asked whether water would go waste with 24x7 supply, Mr. Visakan says when water is available all the time, per capita usage will come down. Explaining this behaviour, he says: “People tend to store water in large containers when it is supplied once in two or four days. When fresh water arrives, they throw away the stored water. This leads to more wastage,” he says.


Mr. Visakan and City Engineer S. Arasu say the first and the third phase of the project will soon receive total approval from all government bodies such as Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited and ADB. Tenders will be floated soon.

The tenders have been evaluated for the second stage but approval for issue of work order is yet to be received, he says.

The Corporation plans to use only available government land from State Highways, National Highways Authority of India, rural roads and railway land for the project. “This way, we can avoid issues related to land acquisition and thus expedite the project,” he says. No Objection Certificate is awaited from the agencies, he adds.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:10:09 PM |

Next Story