Chennai: Multilateral lending agency Asian Development Bank will provide $ 100 million loan (about Rs 670 crore) to strengthen a key irrigation system and improve water management in the Vennar sub-basin of Cauvery Delta in Tamil Nadu. The fund will be used to strengthen embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system and rehabilitate 13 irrigation-pumping schemes at the Cauvery river basin, ADB said in a statement.
The Cauvery river basin is a critical source of water for agriculture, both within Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring states. A lack of investment over many years has left irrigation systems unable to meet user demand and increasingly vulnerable to floods and droughts, ADB said. “The vast majority of the delta’s population is engaged in farming and fishing. They can no longer rely on availability of water for their livelihoods, and flooding is common during the erratic northeast monsoon,” said Raj Kumar, joint secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs.
The irrigated area in the Cauvery sub-basin in the state is approximately 6,40,000 hectares of which 5,64,000 ha is in the Cauvery delta. The four main irrigation systems in the delta are Lower Cauvery (200,000 ha), Vennar (190,000 ha), Grand Anicut (121,000 ha) and Coleroon Anicut (53,000 ha). “Communities in the Cauvery delta are vulnerable to a number of water resources development issues that impact livelihoods, agricultural productivity, and food security,” it said.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had made an announcement under rule 110 of the Assembly on May 7, 2012, about the execution of Climate Adaptation through Sub Basin Development Programme with an loan assistance of Rs.1092 crore and state share of Rs.468 crore. The project area includes six rivers / drains, namely Harichandranathi river, Adappar river, Pandavayar river, Vellaiyar river, Valavanar drain and Vedaranyam Canal, in the Vennar irrigation system. “The project will strengthen the embankments of six major irrigation water channels in Vennar system to make them more resilient to floods and upgrade water regulators, sluices and pump stations,” the statement said.
The project involves flood forecasting and warning systems installation, and a flood risks map will also be drawn up to help communities respond more effectively to extreme events. The water resources department of Tamil Nadu will be responsible for implementing the project. The project is expected to be completed by December 2020.