Puducherry: The authorities of the territorial government have initiated a slew of measures for preparedness and precaution in connection with the northeast monsoon. In the wake of heavy flood in Kerala, the territorial administration is taking all necessary steps with an action plan to tackle any emergency situation.
According to Chief Minister V Narayanasamy The meteorological department (IMD) has predicted heavy rainfall in the month of October. Several rounds of meetings were held by chief minister with ministers and with chief secretary, secretaries and senior government officials. Priorities of the
government: The territorial administration had started the work of removing the accumulated silt from the canal and the tender would be give to desilt the tanks after an open auction. “Desilting the tanks and clearing the channels of the canals would be done with utmost priority by the government. Tenders were given to clear the 20 channels. The department is also planning to have floating trash collectors in the canals to remove the accumulated waste including plastics and weeds to make the flow of water easy”, said a top official from Public Works Department.
Understanding the advantages the UT Tanks/Eris: The east coast of India is entirely dependent on the depressions in the Bay of Bengal to bring in the much needed rain, unlike its western counterpart which gets predictable amount of rain within a predictable time frame. The Union Territory of Puducherry has the experience of dealing with three cyclone in last 10 years.
The engineers of ancient times came up with excellent solution for the unpredictable rain and the miseries it would bring. Tanks, which are known as ‘eris’ in Tamil, are man-made creations to receive water from either river or lake (system eris) and or that entirely depends on rainfall (non-system eris). The French administration and the union territory governments that followed in Puducherry took great interest in preserving these heritage systems as a result, 84 of the 87 irrigation tanks are functional even today. The territorial administration initiated ‘The Tank Rehabilitation Project’ in 1999-2000 to prevent salt water from intruding into the coasts and save the
heritage tanks from disappearing into oblivion.
According to ecologists, the eris are not only meant for the purpose of irrigation but has a prominent role in ground water recharge.” These man-made structures have important role in ground water recharge. In a state like Puducherry which is entirely dependent on ground water, the tanks have much more to do than just irrigation”, says an ecologist.
These eris also play a vital role in managing the micro-climate of the villages around them and also support the economy of the villages. But the main threat now this ecosystem faces is the fast urbanisation and encroachment in the area nearby the area, he added
Probir Banarjee of PondyCan points out that the tanks are also the most effective flood and soil erosion control systems. The excess water exits the system into another tank at a lower gradient through the surplus weir.
Controversy over desiliting the tanks :Lt Governor Kiran Bedi had recently came heavily on Chief Minister V Narayanasamy for his comments on Eri Sanghams , Tank Users Association. The Lt Governor was in favour of handing over the work of desilitng the tanks to the local group where the Chief Minister opposed the idea saying that the local group is not ready to carry out the work which resulted in the eruption of another war of words in Puducherry.
Mr Banarjee who works closely with the local community group said that the statement of the Chief Minister that the Eri Sangham is not ready to carry out the work of desilting the tanks is not true.“This local community group does not have the equipment to carry out the work. So they will seek help from JCB owners which is not a crime. If the government is ready to hand over the work to them they will do that. In fact the government has not yet paid them fully for the desilting work they have done in 2016”, he said.
“There is a government order which states that a statutory body should be formed which should include government secretaries, NGOs and local stake holders and any decisions on this desilting work should be made after consulting the body. Thus if the government is going ahead with the open auction it’s against the government order dating back to 2013”, said Mr Banarjee.
Unfortunately, the government will focus on the desilting of the tanks immediately before the onset of monsoon only which is not effective. The Lt Governor had convened a meeting on March 23 at Raj Nivas to discuss the desilting works. But at the administrative level, the discussion about the work started in August only and the work will start by Sunday. This is the routine for the past several years and this is not going to help in maintaining the tanks.
The Lt Governor also raised the same criticism against the government. Commenting on the decision taken to desilt tanks, Ms Bedi said that this discussion should have been done well before the arrival of the monsoon. “Such meetings must be held during the peak dry season, so that by now, the tanks are ready to receive water. When the monsoon arrives, we may lose all the money”, she said.
Throughout the year, Ms Bedi was working towards making the Union Territory ‘Water Rich’ and she dedicated her weekends to visit the tanks, lakes , educational institutions and water bodies. She had held a series of discussions with the officials regarding the same.
Best drainage systems: When the cities and towns in Tamil Nadu get flooded even after a moderate shower, Puducherry town, once ruled by the French, amazes people with its rainwater drainage where the water would drain in one or two hours - thanks to French architecture.
Around 60 percentage of the stormwater system in Puducherry was built during the French regime and rest by the territorial administration following the French architecture models. “In most of the other areas we have U-shaped canals and in Puducherry the French rulers built L shaped canals which will help to drain the water so quickly. This helped our area from flooding most times”, said an engineer working with Public Works Department.
“The situation has changed a lot now. Due to the population density the width of the canals was reduced to a great extent. And the dredging of the canal were taken just before the onset of monsoon which will not be that effective”, he added
Action plan and decisions taken in meeting chaired by CM: The CM had convened a meeting of top officials of the administration to review preparations as weathermen pointed to heavy rainfall during northeast monsoon. The officials were asked to concentrate on low lying areas including Krishna Nagar, Rainbow Nagar, Bhoomiyanpet and Indira Gandhi square and asked draft plans on ways and means to divert the stagnating water into the sea. Tenders would be floated to clear the channels of the accumulated silt and `16 crore was allocated to desilt tanks here, said Mr Narayananasamy.
Various agencies were asked to give special attention to coastal hamles and mock drills have been conducted by The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team. The CM said that the District Rural Development Agency had been directed to take up cleaning of channels in rural areas under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
The health department was directed to take steps to control vector-borne and water-borne diseases during the monsoon months. The electricity department will be taking all necessary action to deal with power disruption.
Cyclone and evacuation shelters across the state should be kept ready ahead of the monsoon and emergency contact number will also be available.
According to IMD survey, Puducherry suffered the worst monsoon in 2016 where the Union Territory suffered large deficits of 79 percentage with just 656 mm rainfall.
In the year 2017 the Union territory received 1,506mm rainfall....