‘All waterbodies in TN can’t be saved from encroachers’: WRD senior official

According to a recent study, Tamil Nadu has over 2 lakh ponds and minor irrigation sources, but only 90,000 are in use now.

Published: 03rd October 2022 04:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2022 04:14 AM   |  A+A-

Ranganathapuram lake

Ranganathapuram lake (in pic) in Medavakkam, Chennai, is among the thousands across Tamil Nadu that have been encroached | Ashwin Prasath

Express News Service

CHENNAI: According to a recent study, Tamil Nadu has over 2 lakh ponds and minor irrigation sources, but only 90,000 are in use now. However, it is not possible to restore all the waterbodies that were encroached upon, said a senior official in the Water Resources Department (WRD).

The study revealed that encroachments, poor maintenance, and illegal use of land for construction led to the loss of lakhs of hectares with irrigation potential, the official added.

He told TNIE that the WRD is working with the Central Water Resources Department to restore tanks under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). The funding pattern Tamil Nadu is eligible for is 60:40 (Union: State).

The scheme’s prime objectives are to increase the storage capacity of waterbodies, recharge groundwater, improve agricultural productivity, and increase the availability of drinking water, the official said. Another official pointed out that the WRD has restored 83 tanks in seven districts at a cost of Rs 47 crore. Through this, 14,462.28 acres of agricultural land were benefited.

As for the future, the official said they proposed to restore 200 tanks under the scheme in a few districts, including Coimbatore, Salem, and Dharmapuri. Work will begin after the administrative sanction is obtained. He added that by maintaining and restoring waterbodies, groundwater levels would improve considerably since presently most of the water flows into the sea and is wasted.

To avoid this, there is also a plan to construct small reservoirs across TN by upgrading small tanks. The department has submitted a few proposals in this regard. The official said work will be done based on the finances available.

At present, the WRD maintains 90 reservoirs with a combined capacity of 224.297 TMC in the State. Every year, over 200 TMC of water flows into the sea during the monsoon. The official said that if the WRD converts small tanks into small reservoirs, this loss can be avoided.


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