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Rs.8.34 cr. needed to repair irrigation sources

S. Sundar

More than one-third of annual rainfall received in just three days; cloudbust aggravated the flood situation



STATUS QUO: Karumbaalai residents queuing up at a water tap in Madurai Collectorate on Saturday. — Photo: K. Ganesan

MADURAI: Even as assessment of crop damage and property loss due to flash floods in the district is under way, the Public Works Department has estimated that at least Rs.8.34 crores is needed to make permanent repairs to damaged irrigation sources in the district.

It has been assessed that Sathaiyar dam, 122 tanks and 120 channels got damaged in the 258-mm average rainfall received during the three days between November 22 and 24. "This is more than one-third of the annual rainfall," a PWD engineer told The Hindu . The PWD requires at least Rs.1.25 crores to carry out temporary restoration works in the lone dam, tanks and channels.

The amount of rainfall, usually received over a four-month period, lashed over the district in just the three days. "Usually, the soil absorbs this much quantity of water if it rains over a long period. Since the cloudburst also occurred in the three days, the soil could not absorb the downpour and the unprecedented surface run-off," the official said.

All this happened despite the fact that water from the Vaigai dam was not released at all. Apart from the 12 PWD rain gauge stations in the district, Peranai in the tail-end of Dindigul, in the immediate upper reach of Madurai in the Periyar-Vaigai system, made a critical contribution to the surface run-off.

The district received 61 mm, 402 mm and 30 mm in the said three days, causing extensive damage to crops in Vadipatti and Usilampatti areas.

"When the district was experiencing a record rainfall on November 23, the run-off water from the previous day's rains slowly formed its own course and turned into flash floods, damaging all structures on its way," another PWD engineer said. "Our field engineers (in the rank of Junior Engineer/Assistant Engineer) braved the challenge despite a huge vacancy of around 1,000 posts against the sanctioned strength of around 2,200," he said.

Though they could not cover their entire jurisdiction that had swelled two to three times, they were able to minimise the damage as much as possible, he said.

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