Madurai: With most water bodies running bone dry due to failed monsoons, farmers have urged the government to take up de-silting of Vaigai reservoir – the major water body for farming and drinking water of the region – without delay. Farmers have been demanding to remove the silt from the reservoir for many years since the storage capacity has come down drastically due to slush.
During farmers’ grievance redressal meeting held at the collector’s office on Friday, they asked officials what measures have been taken to de-silt Vaigai dam. Collector, K Veera Raghava Rao said the state government is studying the detailed project report on the work. A survey on de-silting was conducted by WAPCOS, a public sector consultancy. The de-silting work will be undertaken once the funds are sanctioned, he said.
Commissioned in 1959 by then Tamil Nadu chief minister, K Kamaraj, Vaigai dam has a storage level of 71 feet with total capacity of 6143 mcft. Besides its catchment area, the dam receives water from Mullaperiyar dam used for irrigation of paddy fields under Periyar Irrigation system in Theni and Madurai districts and provide drinking water to Madurai Corporation and numerous local bodies in Usilampatti region.
According to farmers, the dam was never cleaned of its silt after its commissioning. Out of the 71 feet capacity, the silt could be accounted to 20 feet and it is important to clean the reservoir to improve storage. The farmers also appealed that they should be allowed to take the silt from the reservoir. The alluvial soil is rich in nutrients and will greatly enrich soil fertility. “This is the right time to take up de-silting works of Vaigai since there will be no water flow till the onset of South West monsoon by June or July,” pointed out A N M Thiruppathi, a farming community leader.
They also pointed out that they had submitted repeated petitions to de-silt various water bodies like village tanks to district the administration, which in turn directs the public works department to carry out the work. But nothing happens, they rued. “If no action has been taken on de-silting petitions, why can’t the concerned officials be prosecuted in next grievance day meeting over delay?”, questioned a farmer and added that de-silting water bodies and supply channels is the only concern of farmers but nothing happens in spite of repeated appeals.
Collector said that efforts are under way to de-silt the water bodies in the district.