This was possible due to efforts undertaken by Tirunelveli Collector V. Vishnu, to desilt the tanks and remove encroachments along the 39 km watercourse of the river
Forty-nine parched irrigation tanks, which remained largely dry for over thirty years due to encroachment of clogged irrigation channels, have now received water from Hanuman River, thanks to the timely efforts taken by Collector V. Vishnu to remove the man-made obstacles at various places along the 39 km-long watercourse of the river.
This operation has resurrected farming operations on over 10,000 acres after a gap of 30 years. Mr. Vishnu, after visiting a number of dry water bodies – both systematised and non-systematised – across the district in the first week of July, came out with the plan, ‘Nellai Neervalam’ (Tirunelveli Water Resources). The objective was to rejuvenate the ponds and the irrigation tanks with public participation.
Besides digitizing information pertaining to the water bodies of Tirunelveli district, steps were taken to ensure free flow of water into these irrigation tanks and ponds by desilting the neglected irrigation channels and removing illegal structures obstructing the flow of water into these water bodies.
Mr. Vishnu, after getting information about the 49 irrigation tanks that do not get water from Hanuman River due to the clogged irrigation channels and encroachments, inspected the entire river course from Senchatti check-dam near Kuththarapaanjaan Falls, its origin point in the Western Ghats, to Panchattikulam, the last irrigation tank of the Hanuman River irrigation system and personally ascertained the reasons behind the problem.
“Since all the channels associated with this irrigation system remained choked with tonnes of silt and debris and the channels had been encroached upon by individuals at various places, steps were taken to remove all the obstacles,” says Mr. Vishnu.
On his instructions, a team, led by Radhapuram Tahsildar A. Yesurajan was formed to start both desilting and an eviction drive. In some places, farmers who have their coconut groves close to the watercourse had illegally occupied the river itself by planting the coconut trees beyond their boundaries. In a few other places, the windmill companies had illegally formed temporary roads across the watercourse thereby diverting the water.
When the work started, the Kanjippaarai and Sooravali check-dams, which were built when K. Kamaraj was the Chief Minister, to divert water from the Western Ghats to the Hanuman River via Senchatti check-dam near Panagudi, were strengthened and renovated. Backed by ‘Nam Hanuman River Movement’ volunteers, desilting of the 36 km-long watercourse was completed before the onset of northeast monsoon. Now, the channels branching out from the main watercourse to the irrigation tanks are being desilted.
The desilting of the main channel has ensured the flow of water into 38 of the 49 tanks, all getting water from Hanuman River. Of these, 33 irrigation tanks are now overflowing after the desilting operation and 5 tanks have 75% water.
“Work on taking water to the remaining 11 irrigation tanks is going on. We’ll ensure the overflowing of all 49 tanks under the Hanuman River irrigation system this year by desilting every bit of the irrigation channels,” said Mr. Yesurajan.
The farmers of Hanuman River irrigation system are happy now. “All these 49 irrigation tanks were getting water only through wild streams whenever it rained heavily in this region in the past. After 30 long years, this irrigation system has been resurrected by the Collector and his team of officials,” says Murugan, president of Vaeppillankulam village panchayat.