Madurai

Chittar river revival programme gains momentum

Collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish inspecting Manur channel.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

TIRUNELVELI

The Chittar river revival programme, which was started a fortnight ago, has gained momentum with the participation of the public and a couple of individuals who have come forward to sponsor the work to some extent.

The work, involving hefty expenditure, is being executed by the district administration by roping in sponsors and the technical assistance from Anna University officials and not being done by the Public Works Department, the custodian of irrigation channels, rivers and reservoirs.

Though the waterfalls at Courtallam experience heavy flood for a couple of days during the southwest monsoon every year, most of the irrigation tanks getting water from this seasonal river continue to remain bone-dry owing to badly damaged bunds at several places, encroachments and the waste and debris dumped in the river.

Consequently, the farmers getting water from Chittar river, especially the agriculturists having cultivable lands beyond Paavoorchathram, cannot start farming operations between June and September as there would be no water in the river.

For the first time, removal of waste dumped along the Chittar river watercourse for decades and waterweeds grown abundantly in the river, flowing for about 86 km from Courtallam to mix up with the perennial Tamirabharani beyond Gangaikondan near here, commenced at Courtallam on May 29 last.

The district administration joined hands with Anna University in this ambitious exercise with the backing of a few organisations and individuals, who have come forward to sponsor the heavy equipment required for removing the waste, waterweeds and the encroachments.

As a team of Anna University’s Regional Office here, led by then Dean G. Sakthinathan, who is presently serving as Deputy Director of Anna University Constituent Colleges, Chennai, removed the protruding rocks following comprehensive survey done by them along the Chittar River watercourse from Veerakeralampudhur to bring the water to Manur ‘Periyakulam’ a couple of years ago, the team was roped in.

Now, the team led by Dr. Sakthinathan has commenced the exercise from Courtallam, the starting point, with the help of a couple of organisations and a few individuals.

After the work was commenced in May-end, desilting and cleaning of Chittar River has been completed for about 6 km till Monday (June 17) at the cost of ₹ 3 lakh. “After witnessing the progress in the work, a few sponsors have come forward to share our financial burden. Since we’ve to do this work for the entire course of 86 mm to take Chittar river water even beyond Manur, we’ve to go a long way for which we’re in need of sufficient funds and machinery,” Dr. Sakthinathan says.

The kind of involvement being exhibited by the volunteers, particularly from Manur, housing the sprawling ‘Manur Periyakulam’ feeding water for irrigation for over 1,000 acres, is noteworthy. When the reclamation of Chittar was commenced, a group of volunteers from Manur, including a Muslim family from this hamlet on the Tirunelveli - Sankarankovil Highway, camped at the workplace while some of them effortlessly operated the heavy equipment in the cleaning work.

“The most important aspect is that they themselves negotiate with the encroachers and persuade them to remove their illegal structures to take the ongoing work to the next level, which is so encouraging,” said Ms. Shilpa, who inspected the ongoing work on Sunday.

“She visited the spots where the cleaning work is now going on and also the areas like Veerakeralampudhur, the starting point of Manur channel, where the work is to be taken up in the coming days. She also inspected good number of irrigation tanks which don’t get water from the Chittar river now to ascertain the quantum of work to be carried out there,” said Dr. Sakthinathan.


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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 12:11:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/chittar-river-revival-programme-gains-momentum/article28020856.ece

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