Tirunelveli: While Kerala's magnanimity in voluntarily coming forward to send 20 lakh litres of water to Tamil Nadu, has been hailed by the opposition parties, the farming community in the water-starved southern districts of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar want political parties in the state to persuade the Kerala government to give its consent to the Achankoil-Pamba-Vaippar river linking project so that around 90,000 acres of dry land in the drought-hit regions in three southern districts of Tamil Nadu benefit.
According to Varadarajan, a farmer from the Kovilpatti region, the river linking project , conceptualized in the early 1960s' was aimed to get inflows into water-starved Vaippar river flowing through the taluks of Sivagiri, Sankarankoil, Kovilpatti, Sattur, Virudhunagar and Vilathikulam by diverting surplus water from the west-flowing rivers of Achankoil and Pamba in Kerala.
“The project, if implemented, will be of great help to the drinking water needs of the entire southern districts beyond Madurai,” he said. He wanted state government to put pressure on the Central government to make the long pending river linking project a reality.
The farmer added that opposition parties in Tamil Nadu should utilize the political goodwill they enjoy with both the major parties-the Communists and the Congress of Kerala for the implementation of the project.
The Achankoil-Pamba-Vaippar river linking project was delayed because the Centre waited for Kerala to give its consent, said a PWD official. He added that the feasibility report for the river linking project was completed long ago in 1995 by the National Water Development Authority (NWDA).
According to the feasibility report of the NWDA, the Vaippar flowing through Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts in Tamil Nadu will divert 22 tmcft of water, which is just 20 per cent of the surplus flow in the Achankoil and Pamba rivers of Kerala. This amount diverted into the Vaippar river will directly irrigate 91,400 acres in the three drought-hit southern districts.
“Moreover the river linking project will benefit Kerala as it could create hydroelectric power plants to generate 500MW,” said the PWD official. He regretted that after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu lost its demanding power. “It was because of the pressure exerted by the Jayalalithaa-led state administration on the Central government that NWDA did the feasibility report for the project in 1995,” he added.
The present Communist led state government and the previous Congress- led government in Kerala refused to share the surplus water in Achankoil and Pamba rivers with Tamil Nadu as they fear that this might deprive Kuttanad-the rice bowl of Kerala, of water.
Another concern of Kerala is the possible impact on the natural eco-system of the Alappuzha region....