The Vellore district Palar River Protection Association voiced its concern over the vast stretch of eucalyptus plantation by Karnataka State, in the Palar catchment area, which had affected the rainfall in the region.
In a memorandum sent to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the association president Jamuna Thiagarajan said the State government should take note of the serious consequences of the eucalyptus plantation by Karnataka State in catchment areas in and around Nandi Durg and Haldi Hills areas from where river Palar originated. The river passed through Andhra Pradesh State for a short distance before it entered Tamil Nadu at Vaniyambadi in Vellore district, the memorandum said.
While on one hand, both the neighbouring states had constructed a series of check dams across the river in the upstream within their territories without the permission of the riparian State of Tamil Nadu in the past 20 years, the eucalyptus plantation had drastically affected rainfall in the region, according to a study carried out by various agencies in Karnataka. The association said dialogue should be initiated with the neighbouring States in this regard, to assess the validity of the plantation and reduce its impact.
Jamuna Thiagarajan also suggested cloud seeding during the monsoon to augment the rainfall in catchment area of the Palar in coordination with neighbouring States. She pointed out that cloud seeding had been successfully taken up by AP in the past five years to artificially produce rain, to benefit Chittoor, Cuddappa and Anantapur districts where rainfall was deficit. Tamil Nadu should also explore cloud seeding using the latest techniques to augment rainfall in the northern districts of the State. If there is ample rainfall in catchment areas in Karnataka, Karnataka, AP and TN would benefit when Palar gets flooded, she reasoned.
The association also urged the State to insist on leather tanning units exercising their corporate social responsibility and restore the Palar bed, which had been polluted, and to revive farming activities in the region. The State should also seek the help of professor emeritus Dr Natarajan of Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore who has devised a technique of using bio-metallurgy to clean the polluted river. A project in this regard should be worked out involving the polluters and locals. A committee of experts consisting of hydrologists, farm scientists and environmentalists may be formed, to undertake a study in this regard and suggest suitable ways to restore the damaged ecology of Palar region, she added.
The State should also constitute local-level water audit committees in all districts to keep a check on the ground water utilisation and suggest ways to augment the same. The committee should also suggest measures for reviving water bodies in the districts, Jamuna added.