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Tamil Nadu - Vellore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Move to protect, rejuvenate irrigation tanks

Special Correspondent

Stakeholders' meet to impress upon government the need to protect waterbodies

VELLORE: The Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) is organising a one-day Stakeholders' Consultative Meeting here on June 27 to impress upon the government the need for immediate and appropriate action for protection and rejuvenation of all irrigation tanks and other public waterbodies in Tamil Nadu.

According to S. Janakarajan, professor, MIDS, tanks, diversion weirs and spring channels have been the most important and traditional sources of surface irrigation in the country from ancient times.

39,000 tanks in Tamil Nadu

There are about 2,08,000 irrigation tanks in India, of which 39,000 are in Tamil Nadu. These tanks provided irrigation to over 1.7 million hectares in 1950s. Most of these structures still existed, but the area irrigated by them has come down drastically to 0.7 million hectares in 2002.

Mr. Janakarajan said that the irrigation tanks are historical monuments, which not only serve the very important purpose of providing irrigation water, but also act as a buffer during drought conditions as they help recharge groundwater. Tanks could be a very useful source to combat the threat of climate change.

Tanks are the most important traditional rainwater harvesting structures as visualised and practised by ancient rulers.

“Therefore, tanks can be called an ecological unit, the utilities of which are boundless for generations to come,” he said.

Mr. Janakarajan said that many hundreds of tanks, foreshore areas and their catchments have been encroached upon by individuals, while many others have been occupied officially for various urban activities such as housing, industrial estates and government buildings.

At the present rate of industrialisation and urbanisation in the State, most of the tanks may disappear in the next couple of decades, he said.

It is in this context that the MIDS decided to organise a one-day Stakeholders' Consultative Meeting with the objectives of apprising the State government of the need to take immediate and appropriate action to protect and rejuvenate all tanks in the State, create awareness and instil responsibility among civil society, and to start a civil society movement for the protection of all small waterbodies in the State.

The meeting would be held at Yelagiri Hall in the District Panchayat Office on Anna Salai here from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.

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