Cauvery-Gundar river link work set to take off

Tamil Nadu is all set to launch its ambitious intra-State river linking project by building a canal from the Cauvery to the Vaigai and the Gundar. The massive project seeks to divert surplus flows from the Cauvery to the water scarce southern parts of the State.

Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami will lay the foundation stone for the first phase of the project at a function to be held at Kunnathur in Viralimalai taluk in Pudukottai district on Sunday. The first significant step towards the linking of the Cauvery and Gundar rivers was made with the commissioning of the barrage across Cauvery at Mayanur in Karur district in 2014.

The barrage will form the head of the new link canal which will run a distance of 262.19 km to carry the surplus waters from the Cauvery to the South Vellar, the Vaigai river and finally the Gundar. The canal will have a capacity to carry about 6,000 cusecs of water.

The government had given an in-principal approval for executing the first phase of the project from the Cauvery to the South Vellar, a distance of about 118.45 km, at an estimated cost of ₹6,941 crore. The Public Works Department has decided to seek financial assistance from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for the project, sources in the department said.

In the first phase, the canal will run through Karur (47.23 km), Tiruchi (18.89 km) and Pudukottai district (52.32 km). “The land acquisition process for the first phase is under way in all three districts,” a senior PWD officer told The Hindu.

To start with, the PWD has awarded tenders for digging a canal for a length of about 4.10 km from the Mayanur barrage at an estimate of ₹171 crore and another 5.35 km stretch in Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts at an estimate of ₹160 crore. The first phase of the canal will irrigate 42,170 acres and feed 342 irrigation tanks in Karur, Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts.

The second phase will involve linking the South Vellar and Vaigai rivers, a distance of about 110 km, and the third final phase will link the Vaigai with the Gundar (34.04 km).

The project forms part of the peninsular rivers’ development component of the National Perspective Plan envisaging diversion of surplus flows of the Mahanadi basin and the Godavari basin to the water-short Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, Vaigai and Gundar basins in the South.

The inauguration of the project marks the realisation of a century-old dream of the people of Pudukottai. “The demand has been aired since the days of the British rule. Even if the flood waters of Cauvery is diverted once in three to four years, the district will stand to benefit much,” observed G.S.Dhanapathy, 71, State general secretary, Farmers Forum of India, who had been serving as treasurer of a committee formed in Pudukottai to lobby for the cause for nearly 40 years now.

“It marks a new dawn for us and the project will help Pudukottai shed the tag of being drought prone. Whichever government comes to power in future, should complete it,” he said.

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