The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $100 million (Rs. 670 crore) loan to mitigate climate change risks in the Cauvery delta by strengthening six irrigation channels in the Vennar sub-basin and rehabilitating 13 irrigation pumping schemes.
The ADB officials signed a financing agreement with the Government of India and also signed a separate project agreement with officials of the Tamil Nadu government in New Delhi on Thursday. The total project cost is estimated at $144 million, with the State government pooling in $44 million.
Tamil Nadu’s Water Resources Department will be responsible for implementing the project which is expected to be completed in 2020. The Tamil Nadu government had sought financing from ADB to upgrade the irrigation systems in the region.
The project will run through six rivers in the districts of Thanjavur and Nagapattinam and involves resectioning of Pandavayar, Velleiyar, Harichandranadi, Adappar, Valvanar and Vedaranyam Canal and desilting of riverbeds as well.
According to a report and recommendation of the President, ADB, to the bank’s board in May this year, the irrigation network in the Vennar sub-basin is more than a century old with some irrigation channels completely dilapidated.
“Existing embankments are damaged or weak. At the operational level, water distribution is not systematic and is based mainly on the judgement of WRD staff in response to requests from farmers. At the farm level, the application of irrigation water is inherently inefficient,” the report to the board said.
The project seeks to protect coastal districts from cyclones and flooding that are aggravated by climate change, have a climate-resilient water management system, better flood risk management and improved irrigation infrastructure, according to ADB.
Nearly 11,000 hectares and over 3.35 lakh households will face a reduced risk of flooding over the next 25 years once the project is implemented, as per the bank’s initial environmental examination that was completed in December 2015. A distribution and poverty analysis done by the bank estimated the bulk of the net benefits of the upgraded systems will go to the small farmers (58%) and marginal farmers (42%). While no land acquisition is required for the project, nearly 12,887 persons will have to be resettled, the ADB report said.
“Communities will be involved in planning and delivery of water services. Flood forecasting and warning systems will be installed and a flood risks map drawn up to help communities respond more effectively to extreme events,” said L. B. Sondjaja, Deputy Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed the loan agreement for ADB, said, in a release.