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Drive to rejuvenate Coimbatore water tanks - STATES - The Hindu BusinessLine

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Drive to rejuvenate Coimbatore water tanks

Coimbatore | Updated on July 25, 2003 Published on July 25, 2003

R.Y. Narayanan

Ms. Vanitha Mohan

Coimbatore , July 24

WHAT use are the ponds and lakes in urban centres are generally put to? To probably dump the urban waste, to discharge sewerage water and to encroach upon to build residential or commercial premises or just to grow crops.

The unplanned and uncontrolled expansion of Coimbatorehas brought in its wake serious pressures on its natural resources.

In a region already having very low water table, the continued negligence and encroachment of its water tanks has led to further depletion of its scarce resources.

In an effort to rejuvenate Coimbatore's eco system, concerned citizens, mainly from the Corporate sector , have come together to launch `Project Siru Thuli' to bring water back to earth.

The inspiration for this came from Sri Jayendra Saraswathy Swamy of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and already the Trust has mobilised close to Rs 50 lakh to fund the project.

Speaking to Business Line, Ms Vanitha Mohan, Executive Director of Premier Instruments and Controls Ltd (Pricol) and Managing Trustee of Siru Thuli , said a lot of Coimbatore citizens were concerned about the continued neglect of the city's eco system but did not know how to find a solution or how much it would cost. She felt that it was not for the Government alone to find a remedy but people should also chip in.

She said Pricol, a couple of years back, took up the job of de-silting an agricultural tank in Perianaickenpalayam and cleaning up the canals which has helped in rejuvenating the farm wells in the nearby areas. She said the trust wanted it to become a people's movement. More than money, once it was proved that the trust was working with the Government and had obtained Government sanction, there would be lot of help from home and abroad.

To convince the public that this was something that Coimbatore needed, it took up the de-silting of the Krishnampathy tank near the Sugarcane Breeding Institute in the city. The tank originally spread over an area of about 108 acres but now nearly 25 per cent of it has been encroached upon.

The de-silting work was started first and the entire bunding has been completed to prevent further encroachment and the canal leading up to the tank has also been cleaned.

Ms Mohan said under the project, eight tanks would be covered — Krishnampathy, Selvampathy, Muthannankulam, Selvamuthannankulam, Periakulam, Chinnakulam, Valankulam and Kulatheri in Singanallur on the outskirts of the city. These tanks were interlinked through canals.

She said there was no possibility for rain water to come to these tanks due to various factors — the gradient has totally changed over the years due to constant misuse, which did not allow rain water to flow smoothly from one tank to another.

In some of the tanks, right at the sluice itself there were encroachments and in some places the sluices have been damaged or closed with plastic to prevent water flowing over the encroached area. This has resulted in water flowing in reverse direction and flooding villages during heavy rains.

She was happy over the overwhelming support this initiative has drawn from the farmers and there was a lot of support from the Government too. The work started in Krishnampathy tank on June 11 and the basic work has been completed.

There is a plan to carry out stone patching, reinforcing the tank and build a walkway. In this effort, apart from money, people have given their equipment such as tractors or lorries to transport the silt.

An apex committee has also been constituted to create awareness, to raise resources, to create a master plan for Coimbatore to deal with garbage clearance and the trust would like to associate itself with the civic body on garbage clearance, she said.

Ms Mohan said initially there was a funds crunch and they had to stagger the work. Now engineering contractors and surveyors have started coming in to offer advice. The initial corpus has been largely from corporates but individual contributions have started trickling in.

She said the trust would not rest after cleaning up the tanks and canals. Probably, a CEO will be appointed to run the Siru Thuli Trust and it will be run as a company.

The board of trustees consist of Mr S.V. Balasubramaniam, CMD of Bannari Amman Sugars as Chairman and Dr R.V. Ramani of Sankara Eye Hospital, Mr Ravi Sam, Ms Arathi Varadaraj, Mr Kanaklal Abaichand and Mr N.V. Nagasubramaniam as members, apart from Ms Mohan.

Published on July 25, 2003