TAMIL NADU

‘Sarabanga project will not affect Delta region’

The State government on Monday submitted before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that Sarabanga Lift Irrigation Project, which would see excess water from Mettur reservoir diverted to dry tanks in Sarabanga basin in Salem district, would not have any adverse effect on Delta irrigation.

The Public Works Department, in its counter affidavit, said that the government was considering the proposal to provide water to the region as early as 2012. The scheme on completion would benefit farmers and people in Edappadi, Sankagiri, Omalur and Mettur, and meet their agricultural and drinking water needs.

The government constructed Kattalai Barrage across the Cauvery at Mayanur in Karur district in 2014 for the benefit of Delta irrigation.

Also, work on a new barrage across the Kollidam between Adhanur and Kumaramangalam was under way. Surplus water could be saved there and utilised for the farmers of the region.

Apart from this, a project named ‘Climate change adaptation programme in Cauvery Delta’, assisted by Asian Development Bank at a cost of Rs. 1,560 crore, was under implementation for improving irrigation in tail-end areas of the Delta region. Therefore, diverting 0.555 TMC water from Mettur reservoir, that too when it was surplus, would not have an effect on the Delta region, the counter affidavit said.

Further, the State government submitted that since the diversion scheme was not for developing a new ayacut, and it was only for filling 100 dry tanks to sustain agricultural operations and address drinking water issues in Sarabanga basin, the question of consulting Cauvery Water Management Authority did not arise.

Also, the contention that there had never been excess water in Mettur reservoir in the last few decades was not true. As per data available from 1936 to 2019, Mettur reservoir had had surplus water of more than 555 mcft in 43 years out of the 84 years, at the dependability of 51%. All norms and procedures were followed by the government towards the implementation of the project, the counter said.

A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam adjourned the hearing in the public interest litigation petition filed by a group of Delta farmers who challenged the implementation of the Rs. 565-crore project.

The petitioners said the Delta region was already suffering due to the lack of adequate water.

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