TIRUPPUR: More than 800 small ponds have been left out of Athikadavu Avinashi Project (AAP), allege activists and villagers. The project aims to tap surplus water from the Bhavani river and divert it to water bodies in drought-prone regions in Tiruppur, Coimbatore and Erode districts. It is being carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 1,800 crore, and will help recharge 1,045 ponds, including 37 PWD tanks, 47 panchayat ponds and 971 large ponds.
AAP struggle committee coordinator K Subramanium said the Bhavani river is in spate during the monsoon between June and September. After decades of demand, the AIADMK government initiated the project. However, villagers are upset that many small ponds were not linked in the scheme. "For instance, while the large pond in Thulukkamuthur village (50 acres) and the one in Merkupathi village (100 acres) are connected, seven small ponds located between these two were not linked. Besides, 15 ponds in Theravallur village -- all measuring 2-8 acres -- were also not linked, even though they are located near Thulukkamuthur pond which is just four kilometres away. The entire village is left out of the scheme," he said.
The project was planned based on an extensive survey as it aimed to cater to around 24,468 acres of farmland with six pump houses. The total length of the pipelines is around 1,058 kilometres, including the rising main pipeline (105 km) and feeder lines (935 km).
Avinashi District Union Chairman P Jagadish, "The State government (the previous AIADMK regime) wanted to complete the project at the earliest and roped in a private agency to survey the ponds in Avinashi. Many large ponds were listed and connected under the project. For instance, all the ponds in Nambiyampalayam village were included under the project. But in some villages, small ponds weren't. I believe the survey wasn't carried out properly. We seek immediate surveys to connect the small and medium-sized ponds to the larger ones. Most of the small ponds are entirely dependent on rains. Connecting them under the project would greatly benefit farmers."
Speaking to TNIE, PWD Superintendent Engineer for AAP S Sivalingam said, "The project was planned based on a scientific survey. The system to link large ponds was made depending on the capacity of each pond. Hence, no one can say that several ponds were 'left out'. They are 'additional ponds' which the people want to be included under the project."
He revealed that a team of officials from PWD (Plan and formation wing), headed by a Chief Engineer was conducting a survey of the ponds between Noyyal and Bhavani rivers. Based on their report, Athikadavu Avinashi Project (AAP) phase-2 would be initiated to connect the additional ponds, he added.