State-wide project to boost groundwater

Climate change fund to support constructing recharge structures to prevent floodwater from entering sea

July 21, 2017 12:45 am | Updated 12:45 am IST - CHENNAI

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 27/06/2017: Buffaloes being given a bath in the Ambattur lake, which was once a main source of drinking water.
Photo: K. Pichumani

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 27/06/2017: Buffaloes being given a bath in the Ambattur lake, which was once a main source of drinking water. Photo: K. Pichumani

Aiming at boosting groundwater recharge and preventing floodwater from draining into the sea, the Water Resources Department (WRD) has proposed a project to construct different types of artificial recharge structures across various river basins in the State.

The department plans to construct nearly 177 structures across the river basins at a cost of ₹1,445 crore under the Green Climate Fund, which is a fund established under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to support developing countries adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The project would cover 29 districts.

Long-pending demands

The ambitious project envisages the building of artificial recharge structures such as check dams, dykes, recharge wells, and recharge shafts to sustain resources and improve groundwater quality. It has also included some of the long pending demands of residents from various parts of the State.

A check dam will be built across the Kosasthalaiyar river near Bandikavanur village, Tiruvallur district, about 30 km away from Chennai.

It may be recalled that the proposal was originally devised in 2012 to build a check dam for a height of 6.30 metres across the 300-metre-wide river.

Similarly, a check dam would come up at Illupur village, Tiruttani taluk, where the Nagari river joins the Kosasthalaiyar.

The 245-metre-long check dam would help store 30 million cubic feet of water, said an official of WRD.

R. Ranganatha Naidu, a farmer in N.N. Kandigai, Tiruttani taluk, said: “Kosasthalaiyar is our main source for irrigation and drinking water needs. We have been seeking recharge structures across the river as indiscriminate sand mining has damaged the riverbed. The height of the structure constructed recently across the Kosasthalaiyar in Nallathur needs to be increased to retain water. We need more such check dams in places like Chivvada and N.N. Kandigai villages to improve groundwater resource.”

Many river basins

The department plans to create artificial recharge structures beyond 10 km and up to 200 km from the shoreline.

While dykes would be built across Palar river in Kalur, Venkudi and Ullavur villages in Kancheepuram district and Puttuthakku village in Vellore district, check dams would be constructed across several river basins, including in Sirugramam across the Malatar river, Cuddalore district, Rajakkalmangalam across the Nambiyaru in Tirunelveli district and Perambakkam across the Cooum in Tiruvallur district.

“We have also proposed a barrage across Kollidam at Adanur Kumaramangalam to divert 1,000 mcft of water for irrigation following a long pending demand from farmers. It would come up at a cost of ₹400 crore,” said an official.

Besides structures across the rivers, there are also plans to build recharge wells and recharge shafts in 52 waterbodies across the State to boost groundwater sources. Ambattur lake in Chennai, Veeranam tank in Cuddalore, lakes in Alankulam, Tirunelveli and Mappedu, as well as Poonimangadu in Tiruvallur district, would have such structures soon.

“We expect that at least 5,000 mcft of water that otherwise drains into the sea would be stored through the project. We are waiting for the project to be cleared by the national-level steering committee and Nabard for GCF funding. Work would begin in five or six months,” said an official.

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