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Veeranam extension project soon

T. Ramakrishnan

Farmers have reservations; protests continue in Perambalur district

CHENNAI.: The New Veeranam Extension Project will take off shortly, even as sections of farmers in Perambalur district continue to oppose it.

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, project promoter, has issued work orders for all six packages. "We will sign agreements with the successful bidders by the end of this month. The project will be completed in a year," says a board official.

Aimed at supplying 150 million litres a day (MLD), the project envisages drawal of sub-surface water from the Coleroon river bed by digging six collector wells. Water will be pumped to Sethiathope in Cuddalore district, where it will become part of the New Veeranam Project network.

The six packages

Three packages pertain to sinking of the wells, two relate to laying of pipelines and the other one is about procurement and supply of pipes. Of the total cost, about Rs. 200 crores has been earmarked for supply of pipes and Rs. 60 crores for laying pipes and sinking wells. The project cost has been pegged at Rs. 300 crores to cover any contingency.

Sections of the farmers in the two districts say their groundwater resources will be adversely hit. Early this month, they lost their legal battle in the Madras High Court, which held that the Government had not taken a hasty decision on the project. On the court's directive, it deputed experts to meet and explain to the farmers the features of the project.

On Tuesday, the farmers disrupted meetings held at two Perambalur villages. At Sripurandhan, they protested against the police filing cases against farmers who had been invited to voice their views.

Another team of experts toured Thanjavur district and answered all points raised by the farmers. "At the end of our interaction, they were satisfied," says a team member. The official maintains that water from the source will be drawn only when the board is not able to tap the Veeranam tank.

Thanks to last week's rain in the Cauvery catchments, the tank is filling up fast. On Monday, the storage was 490 million cubic feet against the capacity of 1,485 mcft.

This morning, it went up to about 760 mcft with an inflow of 1,950 cubic feet per second (cusecs). At this rate of flow, it is likely to touch 1,000 mcft by Sunday, says the official.

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