TAMIL NADU

“Form ministry to save water resources”

Staff Reporter

Environmentalists list needs in green election manifesto

DINDIGUL: The government should form a separate Ministry for water and water resources protection, introduce a new system of administration of a river basin as a single unit and implement the Tank Protection Act 2007 effectively.

These appeals were made in a green election manifesto released by members of Tamil Nadu Environment Council, environmentalists, naturalists and non-governmental organisations here recently.

Our development policies should focus on farmers and people welfare.

Water should not be treated as commodity as it was misconceived by the State’s water policy. Existing water policy should be scrapped.

Restoration of tanks should involve people, farmers and women organisations. Labour intensive schemes like NREGA should be encouraged. Supporting organic and natural farming and evicting encroachment in water bodies were essential, they insisted.

The government should bring suitable change in land use pattern, development activities or urbanisation in water catchments of tanks, tank maintenance, water usage pattern and farming activities.

Rain shadow region

With several areas in the State fell under rain shadow region, only coastal areas have received over 1,000 mm rain in a year.

More than 73 per cent of area was made of solid rocks that made improvement of ground difficult. Now, water scarcity has become acute.

With over 39,000 tanks in Tamil Nadu, its surface water potential was 2.4 million hectare. In 1960s, we had utilized 95 per cent of it. Tank irrigation in 1990s was just 6.21 lakhs hectare. Another distressing factor was reduction in tank irrigated area.

In 1950s, tank irrigated area was 30.46 per cent of total irrigated land.

It slumped to 18.30 per cent in 2002-2003. But, well irrigated areas shot up to 54.70 per cent from 22.96 per cent during same period, an indication of degraded status of tank irrigation.

Moreover, natural water bodies near coastal areas have prevented sea water intrusion and keep water table high.

But such water bodies in Tuticorin and Nagari were encroached either by industries or utilised for development activities.

Instead of linking rivers, that were mere water carriers rather than storage facility, the government should restore and protect tanks that acted as water harvesting system and best small reservoirs.

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