After more than a decade, Madurai witnessed a huge flow of water in the Vaigai on Saturday with the inflow touching a peak of around 13,500 cusecs in the early hours, primarily due to rainfall in catchment areas caused by cyclone Gaja.
According to sources in the Public Works Department (PWD), the river last witnessed such huge flow, of more than 20,000 cusecs of water, in 2005 and 2007, mainly because of rain in the catchment areas of Sathayar dam.
However, Saturday’s flow was due to the rain witnessed in the catchment areas of Varaganadhi, Manjalar and Sirumalaiyar, the water from which meets Vaigai near Peranai regulator, downstream of Vaigai dam.
“The phenomenon of Vaigai receiving such a huge inflow from these three rivers is happening after 1993, a gap of 25 years,” said T. Subramanian, Executive Engineer, Periyar Vaigai Basin Circle, PWD,
Stating that the PWD had made adequate precautions to ensure that the flow in Vaigai did not reach an alarming level, he said that release of water from Vaigai dam had been temporarily stopped. “Still, an inflow of 13,500 cusecs was realised at Peranai regulator, owing to the heavy inflow from Varaganadhi, Manjalar and Sirumalaiyar,” he said.
Madurai Collector S. Natarajan said that the flow in the river, however, receded throughout the later part of Saturday. Though no evacuation was required, he said that shelters were kept ready and alerts issued in all the places along the banks of the river.
“People have this habit of tethering their cattle on and near the riverbed. So, all the cattle were shifted from there,” he said.
In a bid to avoid drowning incidents, stringent warnings had been issued and monitoring was done wherever possible to ensure that no one entered the river.
Entry to the two causeways across the Vaigai river in Madurai city at Kalpalam bridge and Obula Padithurai were closed since the early hours of Saturday, fearing overflow of water.
The huge flow of water brought excitement to the people of Madurai as was witnessed from the number of people parking their vehicles along the Vaigai North Bank and South Bank roads and on the bridges across the river to take photographs.