TIRUCHY: The Public Works Department (PWD) has commissioned a contractor to strengthen the canal of Ponaniyar dam whose shutters have not been opened for the past 14 years. Work is underway to renovate the 6 km canal at a cost of Rs 2.65 crore, which has left residents of Vaiyampatti stunned.
The Ponaniyar dam was constructed in 1975 to store water in the Ponaniyar river and irrigate more than 2,000 hectares. The water was also meant to cater to drinking water needs of Manapparai, Vaiyampatti and Marungapuri.
The dam has capacity to store 51 TMC of water and rains in the Kadavur mountain range is its only source. But in the past decade, rainfall has been poor and the Ponaniyar river remained dry for 14 years. According to sources, the current water level of the dam was 26.4 feet of which 18 feet is silt. The dam can be opened only if the level crosses 50 feet “The shutters were last opened in 2005 to release floodwater. Since then, as water storage is below the minimal level, the PWD has not opened the shutters,” said J Shiva, a farmer residing near the dam.
Despite the dam not having been opened for long, the PWD recently started work to strengthen the mud canal with concrete. Residents and farmers in the locality said that without dredging silt accumulated in the water hold area and also not making arrangements for a prominent water source, the maintenance works are completely useless.
Asif, the contractor working on the canals, told Express, “According to the tender, we are strengthening the canal with concrete. The canal has a depth of three feet and will be constructed for more than 2 km from the dam to Semmalai village nearby. The total value of the contract stands at Rs 2.65 crore. The work will get over in six months.”
A senior PWD official said, “Since the dam has no prominent water source, funds for dredging were delayed for several years. It will cost several hundred crore for maintenance of the dam.” He added minor maintenance is being done with the available funds.