PERAMBALUR: The landmark Marudaiyaru river appears to have gone missing in some places. Activists and the public have not been able to find it at certain spots.
However, the river is very much around but due to encroachment or weed overgrowth, it can be admittedly difficult to find. They have complained the Marudaiyaru in Perambalur has not been maintained for several years.
The spots overrun by weeds need to be restored by utilising the MGNREGA scheme, activists said.
The Marudaiyaru covers a distance of 63 km, of which 33 km is in Perambalur and 30 km in Ariyalur. The width of the river ranges from 10 to 120 metres. It begins in the hills of Keezhakanavai in Perambalur and passes through villages in the district like Pudunaduvalur, Nochiyam, Neduvasal, Kurumbapalayam,
Kottarai, Sathanur and Varanavasi. It then connects to Vaipoor village in Ariyalur district before it merges with the Kollidam river.
The Marudaiyaru has 10 streams. Four streams flowing through Perambalur include Perali, Mungilbadi, Siruganpur and Kolakkanatham. The total catchment area of the river is 795 sq. km, of which 425 sq. km is in Perambalur and 370 sq. km in Ariyalur.
More than one lakh farmers in these two districts benefit from the river and its branch streams provided canals are well maintained. The riverbed at many places has been dry for several years without maintenance.
As seemai karuvelam trees have sprouted in most places, water flow is obstructed and groundwater lost.
Several petitions have been filed with the PWD and District Collector's offices, either requesting renovations at specific locations or collectively.
However, no action has been taken. People have complained they were losing parts of the river every day due to poor maintenance and encroachment.
R Ravikumar, an activist from Kurumbapalayam, said, "Over 100 villages have water bodies into which the river drains. These include over 50 lakes and ponds. These are a source of drinking water for the
Given the uncountable rampant encroachments over the years, water scarcity has become a serious concern. The river and its streams have not been maintained for years. This led to the extensive growth of seemai karuvelam trees.
They absorb a lot of groundwater in the surrounding areas. Due to this, the riverbed is unable to restore any groundwater." Ravikumar said people now had no jobs and work under MGNREGA is also scarce. He asked for the scheme to be used by the district administration to provide people work by issuing orders to restore the river on a war footing.
Nochiyam resident T Sivakumar said, "Due to lack of regular maintenance, the river is missing in many places.
While we suffer from water shortage in Perambalur. during the rainy season, water easily enters the village and damages farmland. All of this is because of encroachments and poor maintenance."
He also asked for well-planned check dams to conserve water. He said, "The river's streams and canals should be renovated. Both sides of the river's banks should be strengthened. Also, trees should be planted on the banks of the river." When contacted, a senior Perambalur PWD official said, "We need a lot of money to clean up the river. We are trying to take action on the issue."