CHENNAI: Officials of the Water Resource department (WRD) said the Cauvery Basin's irrigation infrastructure would be extended, renovated and modernised by the end of year in a few parts and the rest of the works would be completed before 2024.
The Cauvery basin has hundreds of rivers and rivulets and more than 10,000 canals of various sizes and categories. Agriculture in delta districts and parts of western districts has been going on for centuries. Since the majority of irrigation infrastructure, including canal lines and water pathways, was built during the Chola and British eras, they have been severely damaged.
Moreover, tail-end areas of Cauvery basin haven't been getting enough water, affecting agricultural activities. Also, due to inter-state water disputes, there are roadblocks in undertaking renovation works in areas around Cauvery river and its tributaries.
After the green signal by Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, the State government had planned to extend, renovate and modernise irrigation infrastructure in the Cauvery basin at Erode, Namakkal, Tiruchy, Thanjavur and nearby districts at an estimated cost of Rs 7,705.75 crore in 2019. Though few works are nearly complete, most of them are still on.
A senior WRD official told The New Indian Express that under this project, 95 per cent of works have been finished at Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur and Karur districts. "The State government sanctioned Rs 933 crore for Lower Bhavani project in Erode, Rs 335 crore for Kattalai High-Level Canal in Karur and Tiruchy, Rs 3,384 crore for Cauvery sub-basin in Tiruvarur, Myladuthurai Nagapattinam, and Karaikal districts, as well as Rs 1,038 for the Grant Anicut in Thanjavur," the official added.
He pointed out that water from Mettur dam is released between June 12 and January 28 every year for irrigation. Hence, WRD officials temporarily stop works in Cauvery basin during this period. Occasionally, rivers and canals might have water till February and works are stopped during this period as well. Works start when riverbeds are dry, officials said.
As part of the project, in all districts where the Cauvery flows, concrete linings would be made in all damaged sluices, check dams, drainage inlets, cross masonries and regulators. Works will be undertaken along nearly 2,000 km as part of the project. The official assured that, after completion of works, tail-end regions will get more water and 8.83 lakh acres of ayacut lands are likely to benefit.